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Lightning starts roof fire at Hempstead school

Officials are not sure whether the building will be repaired in time for the start of classes on Sept. 4.

Firefighters respond to a blaze at Hempstead's Prospect

Firefighters respond to a blaze at Hempstead's Prospect Elementary School on Peninsula Boulevard on Aug. 7, 2018. Photo Credit: Lou Minutoli

Officials are unsure whether a Hempstead school struck by lightning that caused a roof fire Tuesday will be repaired by the first day of classes.

The reading room on the second floor of Prospect School had the most damage, officials said Wednesday. Seven surrounding classrooms, the adjoining hallway, ceiling and HVAC system have water damage as a result of firefighter’s efforts to extinguish the blaze.

“We’re hoping it doesn't delay the school opening,” said Regina Armstrong, acting Hempstead superintendent.

As a precaution, Armstrong is working with the New York State Commissioner of Education and the Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services to find an alternative site should the building not be ready for the first day of school on Sept. 4.

The reading room is used to hold classes for students who are slightly below grade level as part of the school’s Academic Intervention Service program. Additionally, the classroom housed more than a thousand books, electronic smart boards and computers.

Armstrong would not give an estimate on damages but confirmed appraisers were on site.

More than 500 kindergarten students are enrolled at Prospect School, which also has two prekindergarten classes.

There were two custodians working in the building Tuesday night and one of them alerted the fire department.

The Hempstead Fire Department responded to a call a little after 9 p.m. At least 11 fire departments responded, including Mineola, Oceanside and West Hempstead. The fire was extinguished at 11:30 p.m., according to the Hempstead Fire Department.

“We are grateful of the number of responders that came out. It was show of brotherhood and camaraderie,” Armstrong said.

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