Approximately 100 firefighters from five area departments responded to a call for a fire at Hicksville High School Monday night. According to Chief Edward Korona, the fire department received an automatic alarm at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 for a fire at the high school and, upon arrival, found heavy smoke was pushing from the base of the chimney.
Further investigation revealed a fire in the boiler room, said Korona, adding that further investigation revealed that the fire caused a fuel tank to rupture and some 500 gallons of diesel fuel to spill. As a result, all utilities to the building were shut down as was the supply of fuel oil. "We were able to contain it to the basement and, for precautionary purposes, applied a foam blanket over the ground of the basement to prevent any ignition sources," said Korona.
The fire, which was contained within 20 minutes, caused extensive damage to the building's electrical, heating and plumbing systems as well as minor damage to the roof; the classrooms were not damaged. The Hicksville Fire Department received assistance from the Bethpage, Westbury, Farmingdale, Plainview and East Meadow fire departments along with county Haz-Mat specialists who were called in to oversee cleanup. The Nassau County Fire Marshal was called to the scene to investigate, but as of press time, the blaze did not appear suspicious.
Although school is closed this week for winter recess, there were about 30 students and several teachers working on a robotics project in the eastern part of the building at the time of alarm. Everyone was evacuated without incident. One Hicksville firefighter suffered minor shoulder and back pain and was transported to North Shore Hospital in Plainview.
"We are very appreciative of the outstanding efforts of the Hicksville and neighboring fire departments who responded immediately and extinguished the fire ..." said Superintendent of Hicksville Schools Maureen Bright.
With school closed this week, activities scheduled were relocated, where possible, to the middle school. Bright said the district has all intentions of making the necessary repairs in time for classes to resume Monday, Feb. 23. "Cleanup of the water and oil from the boilers, in accordance with DEC regulations, began [Monday night]," she said. "It is anticipated that cleanup operations and all repairs will be completed this week and school will be open on Monday morning."
Feb. 20 was a busy day for Hicksville firefighters. Earlier in the day, the department was called to a fire at the Carousel Day School. The 3 p.m. alarm, said Korona, turned out to be a rubbish fire next to the house with extensive damage to a fence, deck and the front of an employee's vehicle.