NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A carbon monoxide scare forced the evacuation of hundreds of students from a school in Queens Tuesday afternoon.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, PS/IS 295, at 222-14 Jamaica Ave. in Queens Village, emptied of students and staff early in the school day – and the kids found out fast that it wasn’t a drill.

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“It was scary, because we thought we were all going to die,” said PS 295 student Christina Bradley.

The evacuation affected all 550 students – from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade – as well as special needs children. They were loaded safely onto buses, or else they walked, to nearby PS 33 Edward M. Funk, 91-37 222nd St., along with their teachers.

That was where parents – nervous after receiving emergency school robocalls – gathered to retrieve their kids.

“They have them all in the cafeteria,” said parent Patricia Camacho. “It chaos in there.”

“I got a call that said there is an emergency. They didn’t say what’s the emergency; just come get the kids,” said parent Rehanna Bradley. “You got the parents scared. At least say something.”

Parents who saw Con Edison crews all morning on Jamaica Avenue in front of the school had a leg up on information.

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“They said it was something like a gas leak or something, or a manhole explosion,” said parent Cheree Cook.

Con Ed said it all began at about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday with a series of smoking manholes around the corner from PS/IS 295 in Queens Village.

They believe carbon monoxide may have drifted into the basement of the school, CBS2’s Gusoff reported.

By 9 a.m., carbon monoxide readings in the school were high. Classrooms and hallways remained safe, but Con Ed remained on the scene all day venting and investigating.

“I was nervous, but the school they’re on top of it,” Sherry Cook, whose 8-year-old son is a student at the school, told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

With no injuries, some parents called what happened a textbook evacuation. But there was still disappointment over communication by the school.

“They’re really not giving much information. So at this point, we don’t even know if there’s going to be school tomorrow,” Camacho said.

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Con Ed said some sort of equipment failure is to blame for the situation, and crews are working to pinpoint the exact cause.