A researcher was plating bacteria onto a petri dish using ethanol and a Bunsen burner as part of a standard sterile transfer on a lab bench. The metal spreader was dipped in a jar of ethanol and burned off in the burner. Somehow, the jar of ethanol spilled on the lab bench and onto the researcher's bare arms and t-shirt, and caught fire. The flames were reported to be up to two feet high. The researcher immediately went to the safety shower, pulled the handle which activated the emergency shower and got in. The shower water quickly put out the fire and cooled the burns.
Other combustible papers on the bench and trashcan caught fire. A colleague used a nearby fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
911 was called -- the fire department responded and transported the researcher to the hospital for medical attention. At the hospital, first and second degree burns were treated and he was released.
What Caused the Incident?
The researcher indicates that the jar containing ethanol was very full and was being used too close to the burner. He is unsure if the vapors first caught fire or if there was a spill that caught fire.