L.I. School Burns to Ground as 200 Firefighters Battle Blaze

No civilian injuries reported

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A massive fire decimated an elementary school in Long Island.

    An overnight fire ravaged a Long Island elementary school, authorities said.

    Flames leapt from the building, bathing the entire structure in a flourescent orange, yellow glow. No civilian injuries were reported -- a fortunate thing considering the blazing intensity of the fire. 

    The Suffolk County Police Department says firefighters were still at South Bay Elementary School on Friday morning. It took six hours and more than 200 firefighters to finally get the blaze under control.

    In the process, about a half dozen firefighters were hurt. Assistant Chief Campbell said their injuries are considered minor.

    Meanwhile, families began arriving outside the school with tears in their eyes.

    "I can't believe its gone," one student said.

    West Babylon schools Superintendent Anthony Cacciola told Newsday the damage was "pretty bad.''

    He said the fire alarm went off around 10 p.m. Thursday. By midnight, the building was fully engulfed in flames. The blaze "began in the boiler room" according to West Babylon's First Assistant Chief James Campbell.

    Initially, getting water on the fire was a logistical challenge. The snow and location of the building made for long hose runs.

    When the fire rapidly spread through the wood ceiling of the 1950's building, fire fighters had to pull back. That decision could have saved lives because the roof eventually collapsed in several places.

    The school has about 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It was closed this week for winter break.

    Classes were supposed to resume Monday, but now the district is scrambling for a plan that provides at least a temporary home for these kids.

    While one little girl choked back tears, her friend said the students used to go to school here, but now suddenly they don't. The district just finished a library that students haven't even been able to enjoy.