Clearwater student, teacher suffer burns at school

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A Pinellas County student is badly injured and in the hospital after a fire broke out his school.

Investigators and district officials have not yet explained what took place Wednesday afternoon before a student had to be flown from High Point Elementary to Tampa General Hospital.

Around 2:25 p.m., someone at the school called 911 to report a structure fire.

"Upon arrival, there was no active fire in the school," said Largo Fire Rescue's EMS Chief Terry Tokarz. "There was an injured student and that student was since transferred by Bayflite to the Tampa General burn center."

Tokarz said the young patient was just 8 years old. He said a teacher was also hurt, but suffered only minor injuries.

Neighbor Pamela Sindlinger rushed over when she heard the sirens.

"We ended up coming out and then saw Bayflite coming in and landing here in the field and then we saw them bring the boy out on the gurney and transfer him to the gurney and put him on the helicopter and take him off."

The State Fire Marshal and Pinellas County Schools Police are investigating.

As far as what exactly happened, and the extent of the student's injuries, "That's not information I'm going to be able to share at the moment," said district spokesperson Lisa Wolf. "We want to be very sensitive and respectful of not only the child's privacy but their family's privacy, as well as the safety of the child."

High Point Elementary Principal Michael Feeney contacted parents via telephone, saying:

"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."

Wolf said the school's safety plan was executed by the book.

"The school was briefly evacuated. Students were moved to a safe spot off campus and they were held there until dismissal," Wolf said.

Neighbors who witnessed the rescue are praying the little boy is okay.

"Immediately, our heart goes out to the families that are here," said Sidlinger. "Anything that has to do with children, we are concerned, given this present day situation where you never know what is going to happen in a public place."