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Students Hospitalized After Wire Falls on Them During School Evacuation

By Katie Honan | March 5, 2014 5:53pm
 A fire in the basement boiler room forced the evacuation of the building that houses P.S. 317 and P.S. 318, fire officials said.
A fire in the basement boiler room forced the evacuation of the building that houses P.S. 317 and P.S. 318, fire officials said.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ROCKAWAY PARK —  In a series of escalating accidents, six schoolkids had to be hospitalized on Wednesday after they evacuated their school following a fire in the basement — only to be hit by a cable wire pulled down by a garbage truck outside, officals said.

The mishaps began when a blaze broke out in the boiler room at The Waterside Schools, P.S. 317 and P.S. 318, at Beach 112th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard at approximately 9:15 a.m., according to a Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg.

The building, which houses more than 500 students, was evacuated as the FDNY and NYPD responded to the scene, Feinberg said.

Then, while students and faculty waited outside, a Department of Sanitation truck— which was backing up so it wouldn't interfere with the evacuation — hit an overhead cable wire and knocked it over, according to a Department of Sanitation spokesman.

The wire fell on several students, sending six to St. John's Episcopal Hospital, according to the FDNY. Their injuries were minor and the children were taken there "as a precaution," Feinberg said.

The fire was sparked by an oil leak in the basement and was quickly put out by the building's staff, according to the school's assistant principal, Katie McGillicudy, who sent a note home to parents about the incident on Wednesday afternoon that was obtained by DNAinfo New York.

McGillicudy commended the students and faculty for their response to the fire.

"Waterside practices safety procedures regularly and I'm proud to report that our students and teachers knew exactly how to respond by following our Emergency Fire Procedures," she wrote.

A parent, though, felt the school should have notified parents sooner about what was going on.

Marissa Bernowitz, 27, said she found out about the incident on Facebook, and came to pick up her son, who is in the third grade, as well as her younger brother, an eighth-grader.

"I think once the school started getting phone calls from concerned parents they should have had a response ready — instead of just saying 'all the kids are safe,'" she said.

"That was not the case."