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Science teacher put sanitizer on student's hands and then lit them on fire, police say

The 12-year-old boy was treated at a local burn center.
/ Source: TODAY

A Texas teacher is under criminal investigation after putting hand sanitizer on a 12-year-old boy’s hands and lighting them on fire as part of a science experiment, according to police.

Granbury Police Lt. Russell Grizzard told TODAY Parents that the incident on April 1 at Granbury Middle School left a student with “possible third degree burns on his hands.”

Grizzard noted that the experiment had “reportedly been done multiple times throughout the day” without any issues.

"It looks like every class that day had a group of students that volunteer to do it," Grizzard told NBC affiliate KXAS. "There was also another classroom that was doing the same thing where there was no incident.

The educator, a 37-year-old female, has since resigned, according to a statement that was posted to the school district’s Twitter account on Tuesday.  

The child’s father posted photos of his son’s injuries on Facebook and wrote that he received treatment at the Parkland Burn Center. A hospital spokesperson told TODAY that he has been discharged.

“Hand sanitizers with high concentrations of ethanol and hydroxypropyl are flammable,” Dr. Anthony Pizon, chief of medical toxicology at UPMC in Pittsburgh, previously told TODAY. “Any amount of hand sanitizer can light on fire. The volume controls how rapidly the flame will spread. If you have a little bit on your hands, a little bit will light on fire.”

As hand sanitizer dries, it evaporates into gas, which can also catch fire. That’s why Pizon recommends that people avoid lighters, matches and fires after using hand sanitizer.

“You should make sure your hands are completely dry before you light a match,” he said.

Pizon noted that people should store hand sanitizer away from any type of open flame, including stoves, fire pits and candles.