Clearwater elementary student burned in mysterious fire at school

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – An 8-year-old student at High Point Elementary School in Clearwater is at the Tampa General Hospital burn unit.

A fire severely injured the boy. Burned on his shoulders, torso, hands and arms, an EMS crew rushed the boy down the sidewalk to a nearby field.

There, a Bayflight Medical helicopter flew him to the burn unit.

Administrators evacuated the rest of the students.

“The fire alarm just went off and then we’re like, ‘what’s happening?’ We all just ran to the field over there,” said student Giovanni Ortiz.

Parents arriving to pick up their children found fire crews at the school, but received very little information.

“Oh my God. My heart sank and I really wanted to cry,” said parent, Sandi Lawson.

Soon, word got out of the fire and burn injury.

“I was a little scared. I was freaking out for a while,” said Lawson.

With the medical evacuation chopper gone, many were left to find out what happened from other parents.

“When you’re a parent and you hear that, you just, you know, you just freak out,” said Ashley Maurice.

“Your first instinct is like, ‘what happened to my kid.’ Ya know, I hope everything is okay. But I think he’s gonna get some pretty good care so hopefully he’ll be okay,” said Jamie Phinney.

Besides the young student, a teacher has minor injuries.

Principal Michael Feeney sent out a telephone message to parents. But details are missing.

“And they were just like, ‘it’s fine. If it was your child, we would have called you.’ Excuse me, there’s a child being lifted away. Was my child near that child? Ya know, that’s traumatizing,” said Norma Gonzalez, an aunt of a student.

Counselors will be on hand in the morning for any students who need to talk.

Largo Fire Rescue and the school district police are investigating.

The following was sent to families today:

“Hello this is Mr. Feeney, principal at High Point Elementary. I am calling to inform you that our school was evacuated this afternoon after a student was injured at school today and taken to the hospital. The school was evacuated to keep all students safe while the incident was addressed. All students followed the proper procedures for an evacuation and dismissal was delayed by 15 minutes. There were many first responders on our campus. If your child has questions about what happened at school today, please tell them there was an emergency and we needed assistance from police and fire rescue. We have support available from our social workers and school counselors if you feel your child needs additional support. Please contact our office during regular school hours if your child needs additional support. Thank you.”

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