News

Officials: Long Island School Fire Was Arson

The George Washington Elementary School is seen after a fire - West Hempstead, NY - Aug 10, 2010 - Photo: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880

The George Washington Elementary School is seen after a fire – West Hempstead, NY – Aug 10, 2010 – Photo: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880

WEST HEMPSTEAD, NY (WCBS 880) - Allie Dowden, who is only 7-years-old, was visibly upset as she walked towards the George Washington Elementary School in West Hempstead, Long Island where police say a fire Monday night was intentionally set.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports from West Hempstead

“I’m very sad because I liked that school very much. It was very fun,” Allie told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall,

To make matters worse, school authorities say when the superintendent, John Hogan, came to the fire on William St. around 9 p.m., he had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Officials say Hogan is hospitalized in critical condition.

Witnesses say that right before the fire began, they heard a loud bang, and then saw a group of people running from the school.

One 16-year-old can’t understand why anyone would set fire to an elementary school, saying, “People hang out at the school all the time… It truly could have been anyone [that was hurt].”

Six departments and 100 firefighters extinguished the blaze.

The fire caused extensive smoke and water damage to portable classrooms next to the main building.

“Tables, my desk, everything is gone,” a student told 1010 WINS reporter Mona Rivera. “It’s very upsetting to see that my room got on fire.”

School officials posted a statement on the district website saying they were confident all students scheduled to attend classes next month will be accommodated.

Detectives ask anyone with information regarding this crime to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.  All callers will remain anonymous.