Electronic cigarette blamed for Sparks High gym explosion
By Marcella Corona and Emerson Marcus
School officials called police at about 10:15 a.m. after they received a report of a fire in the gym, Principal Kevin Carroll said.
Carroll said he had received a call from a teacher who saw a fire spark in the gymnasium. He then said he immediately called the school police and administration and evacuated about 150 students from inside the gym, plus several more from nearby classrooms.
“I think you have to plan for the worst,” Carroll said.
“I just hope it isn’t anything malicious,” he said. “It was put out pretty quickly.”
Specifics on the power source and the cause of the explosion weren’t immediately released and the investigation was ongoing, school district spokeswoman Victoria Campbell said.
“Officers determined that there was no intent by the two students to cause the explosion,” Campbell said.
“They were messing with the e-cigarette,” she said, adding that no charges were filed.
Students were evacuated to a different part of campus after the minor explosion, but never left campus, she said. School operations were up and running about 90 minutes after the incident, she said.
The alarm also prompted police to close off the school along 15th Street, from Prater Way to Rock Boulevard.
Some Sparks High School students said they heard a morning announcement of a bomb threat through the school’s intercom just before police responded the call of the fire.
Juan Medina, 18, said he was sitting in his government class when his teacher announced that the school received a bomb threat Monday morning.
“A few minutes later, we went out and we evacuated to the football field,” Medina said.
Uvaldo Carrillo, 17, said he was also in class during the incident.
“I just heard that they found something in the gymnasium,” he said. “Some of the students were saying they heard a loud pop, but I didn’t know until it all happened.”
Uvaldo’s mother, Rosio Talavera said she was worried about her son and had received a notification from the school afterward.
“After all that happened, they just told us right now,” Talavera said at about 11:30 a.m. after the school lockdown was lifted. “I mean, why didn’t they tell us sooner as it was happening? Why wait until now?”
Jason Trevino, school police chief, said authorities were checking a group of students’ backpacks, but did not specify what they were searching for.