Cause of Valley High School's Boiler-Room Blast Remains a Mystery: Update

See Update No. 2 at the end of this post about the cause of Valley High's boiler-room blast remaining a mystery. Update No. 1 is about students who sought treatment and were hospitalized.

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ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 11, 11:12 A.M.: A boiler-room explosion before classes started at Valley High School in Santa Ana this morning frayed nerves, and there are conflicting reports about injuries. KABC/Channel 7 just tweeted a breaking news alert claiming four were hospitalized, but fire and school officials had previously told reporters no one was injured and no students had been in the area of the blast.

In an update, KABC tweeted: "3 people transported for hearing issues, 1 transported for anxiety, Santa Ana police say."

The water boiler explosion was reported about 7:35 a.m. at the high school at 1801 S. Greenville St., according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jon Muir, who said arriving firefighters thought they were responding to a fire but saw the blast aftermath "with smoke, no flames and large amounts of water."

The explosion near the school's gym did cause "some significant structural damage to the building," added Muir, who noted the Orange County sheriff's bomb squad inspected the area as a precaution.

Most of that damage was confined to the gym's locker room area, Deidra Powell, a spokeswoman for Santa Ana Unified School District, told City News Service.

Classes were able to start as usual despite the explosion, although some near the gym were relocated elsewhere on campus.

UPDATE NO. 1, JUNE 11, 12:23 P.M.: Seven students went to the nurse's office and four them were sent to the hospital with complaints ranging from anxiety to ringing in the ears, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Fire officials did not initially know that students had sought medical treatment because they had gone to the nurse's office by the time firefighters arrived, the police spokesman explained.

UPDATE NO. 2, JUNE 12, 9:19 A.M.: The cause of the explosion that rocked Valley High Tuesday morning remains a mystery, authorities said today.

The boiler itself did not blow up, with the blast likely being caused by a gas leak or mechanical malfunction in the boiler room near the gym, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jon Muir, who noted Southern California Gas Co. is among the agencies investigating.

The explosion was powerful enough to raise the building's roof, blow a door 75 feet into the school's auditorium and rip other doors off their hinges. "It was a pretty good boom," Muir told City News Service, "but fortunately there were no kids in the (immediate) area."

Indeed, school officials said there likely would have been more injuries, perhaps significant ones, were it not for the fact seniors were not on campus Tuesday because they were rehearsing for graduation and most students in lower grades had not yet arrived.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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