Updated:ATLANTA,None — Two Georgia Tech students are in critical condition after a chemical explosion on campus.
Investigators said the students were mixing chemicals on the back deck of a fraternity house when the chemicals ignited and exploded just after 1 a.m. Wednesday. The two students suffered burns to nearly half of their bodies, authorities said.
"They suffered first- and second-degree burns over 40 percent of their upper body, including their chest, arms and faces," said Captain Joylon Bundrige of the Atlanta Fire Department.
Investigators said the two Georgia Tech students accidentally set off a small explosion on the back patio of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house.
SLIDESHOW: Georgia Tech Explosion Scene VIDEO: 2 Georgia Tech Students Burned In Explosion
Fire officials said a combination of two chemicals ignited. One student explained the mixture, known as thermite, to Channel 2 Action News reporter Darryn Moore.
"The chemicals you use are just rust powder, which is just rust, and aluminum powder, which isn't hard to find either and you just light it with a butane torch and it'll finish off itself," said student Michael Parker.
It creates molten iron, which is extremely hot and dangerous if you're not careful.
"You're talking about temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius," said Parker.
There were 15 people inside the fraternity house during the explosion. They escaped unharmed.
Lisa Ray Grovenstein of Georgia Tech said the two students, Tommy Keen, an aerospace engineering sophomore from Peachtree City, and Paul Grzybowski, a junior materials science and engineering student from Appling, were both transported to Grady Memorial Hospital.
"Georgia Tech's dean of students visited Grady Hospital Wednesday and will maintain close contact with the injured students' families during the recovery process," Grovenstein said.
Georgia Tech police officers collected bags of chemicals and evidence from the house.
Authorities are still trying to figure out why the students were mixing the chemicals. The investigation continues.