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Press Releases / 2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 9, 2008


Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced today that FDNY fire marshals have arrested a 13-year-old girl who ignited a fire inside her sixth-grade homeroom class at Intermediate School 228 in Brooklyn. The all-hands fire destroyed the second-floor classroom and injured six people, including two fellow students. Following an investigation, the girl was arrested yesterday and charged with fourth-degree arson, criminal mischief and other charges.

“All New Yorkers, especially children, must understand the dangers of fire, and how a small flame can lead to a major tragedy,” Commissioner Scoppetta said. “This fire caused a significant amount of damage and could have been much worse if not for the actions of the school’s staff and our responding members.”

The fire was first reported at 5:30 p.m. Monday when school staff members smelled smoke emanating from the locked classroom. They tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher but were unsuccessful. Staff members called 911, and more than 60 firefighters responded to the four-story building at 228 Avenue S. The fire was under control by 6:31 p.m.

Two female students, ages 11 and 13, suffered smoke inhalation and were treated at Coney Island Hospital. One adult was treated on scene, and three firefighters who suffered minor injuries were treated at the hospital.

Under the supervision of Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes, Fire Marshals David Wong and Gary Mazalatis conducted an investigation and interviewed more than 20 students and faculty members.

Fire marshals determined the 13-year-old suspect was playing with a cigarette lighter, lit some loose papers on fire and tossed them inside a large wooden coat closet just before dismissal time. The fire eventually engulfed the closet where books and clothes were stored, then spread to the entire classroom. No one was inside the room at the time.

Press Contact: Francis X. Gribbon & Tony Sclafani , (FDNY) (718) 999-2056

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