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Five hospitalized after chemical device goes off at U.S. school

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Two boys were arrested late Tuesday in connection with a chemical reaction that caused a container to rupture at a Colorado charter school, sending four students and a teacher to hospital.

Law enforcement officials and emergency crews responded to reports that "some kind of chemical device" went off in a classroom at SkyView Academy in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sergeant Ron Hanavan said.

The school, which has 1,200 students and staff members, was evacuated, and the four students and teacher were taken to a hospital with breathing problems, Hanavan said. No serious injuries were reported.

"We have been able to determine that this was not accidental and are treating this as a criminal investigation," Hanavan said.

Because the suspects are juveniles their names have not been released, and the case will be turned over to the district attorney's office to determine if criminal charges are warranted, Hanavan said.

Hanavan said "a chemical reaction within a container caused the device to rupture," adding that the incident occurred inside a classroom, and not in the school's chemistry lab.

All of the hospitalized patients have been treated and released, he said.

The Douglas County School District said on its website that the school was closed "due to an isolated incident involving chemicals."

SkyView is a charter school, with both high school and grade school students. Hanavan would not say what age or grade level the students inside the classroom were.

Classes will resume at the school on Wednesday with an increased police presence, Hanavan said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)

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