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Fire Destroys School in Bellport, 55 Injured

Mar. 8, 1963 - A small circle of flame mushroomed with explosive fury today and raced through an old two-story wing of a high school in Bellport, N.Y. Forty-four students and a teacher were injured in making their frantic escape. Improvised fire nets failed to break the fall of some youngsters who had leaped through panes of glass from second story windows. One boy broke both legs; another broke a kneecap. The teacher wrenched her back. There were no fatalities among the 900 students who were in the building when the unexplained fire broke out 15 minutes before the closing bell. Thirty-seven of the injured students and the teacher were hospitalized and treated for smoke poisoning, shock, and fractures. Only one was reported in critical condition. He was John Allers, 13, an 8th grader, who broke both ankles and suffered internal injuries. “It was the most sickening thing I ever saw,” said 14-year-old Maureen Coyne, a 9th grader who escaped through smoke from the newer wing of Bellport High School. “People were breaking windows and calling to each other to get out, and everybody was hysterical. My girlfriend, Theresa Nixon, went right through a window pane on the second floor, and five boys caught her on the ground. She was covered with blood.”


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