NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An extra-alarm fire broke out Friday evening at a Roman Catholic high school in the Bronx.
The fire broke out at Monsignor Scanlan High School, at 915 Hutchinson River Pkwy. in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, officials said.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the blaze started in a two-story boiler room at the school, and quickly spread to the third-floor chapel — leaving it in ruins. A science lab also sustained heavy damage.
The blaze was later raised to three alarms.
“It’s heartbreaking in a way, because, you know, we wouldn’t expect this type of thing to happen at our school,” said sophomore Alexis Natal.
Fire investigators described the blaze as a stubborn and brutal fire before it was finally extinguished.
“It’s an old wood-frame building, with all the problems associated with that — hidden void spaces – and once the fire starts traveling in a building like this, it’s a job to keep up with it,” said FDNY Assistant Chief William Seelig.
Students and staff were not in the building at the time. Midterm exams were held earlier before a three-day weekend.
Two students came to the school to retrieve a phone that was left behind, only to encounter thick smoke then fire fighters rushing in.
“I walked in there, and like, the smoke, you could just smell it when you walked in there,” said sophomore Joshua Torres. “And it was a little terrifying when I walked in there because no one was there, so we just ran out.”
Three firefighters were injured — two with smoke inhalation and one with chest pains. All were expected to survive.
The fire was put out after it engulfed the chapel but before it reached any classrooms.
Students were scheduled to be off Monday for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. More midterms were scheduled for Tuesday, followed by regular classes Wednesday.
School principal Patrick McGuire said as of Friday night, there had been no decision about classes next week, and the decision would depend on boiler room issues.
Without heat or hot water, the school could be closed for all of next week, McGuire said.
The co-educational Catholic school was established in 1949. Its campus spans 13 acres.
The cause of the fire remained unknown late Friday.
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