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Long IslandCrime

Arson fire closes Valley Stream school Tuesday

An arson fire forced the evacuation and closing of a Valley Stream school Tuesday, and resulted in minor injuries to four school staff members, police said. No students were injured, and classes were scheduled to resume Wednesday, the district's superintendent said.

The fire in a second floor men's bathroom at Valley Stream North Junior-Senior High School caused heavy smoke conditions and set off automatic alarms at about 9:30 a.m., officials said. The 1,200 students, and staff in the building on Herman Avenue were evacuated to a nearby sports field.

Marc Bernstein, the school district's superintendent, said, "It appears that a paper towel dispenser was put on fire . . . made out of plastic, the smoke was quite intense."

The Franklin Square Munson Fire Department responded quickly, Bernstein said, but before it arrived, a custodian and four teachers tried to extinguish the fire. They were all later treated for smoke inhalation at a hospital and released, police said.

The Nassau County police arson/bomb squad is investigating, and Bernstein said, "We'll start doing our own investigation. Anytime there's a fire in a school, it's an extremely serious matter. We've kids in wheelchairs or on crutches that had to be evacuated."

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