The West Babylon Fire Department was activated for an automatic fire alarm at the South Bay elementary school at 22:28 hours on Thursday, February 18, 2010.
2nd Asst Chief Pete McArdle first on scene advised "smoke showing", 1st Asst. Chief Jim Campbell and 3rd Asst. Chief Chrissy Manzi arrived on scene, and after a quick size up the Chiefs discovered heavy fire on the north side of the building. Chief Campbell immediately transmitted working fire and asked BCFA to re-tone call as such.
First arriving units 1-9-1 and 1-9-2 forced entry and stretched 2 lines in an effort to perform an interior attack. Tower Ladder 1-9-4 set up operation at the north side of the building. Firefighters were faced with heavy fire load in the hall way and made an aggressive attack. 1-9-4 informed command the fire was through to roof and there was danger of collapse. Mutual aid was requested from multiple surrounding departments initially. As the fire progressed through the roof, interior teams were pulled back and a defensive strategy employed. The Town of Babylon disaster plan was activated, requesting manpower from all 1st Division departments. Suffolk County FRES Commissioner Joe Williams arrived on scene and offered County resources to supplement the town resources. The County Command vehicle was requested to the scene.
In all a total of 24 Departments from the first, second, and third divisions in excess of 200 firefighters were involved in this operation under the command of Chief Campbell, assisted by Chief McArdle, Chief Manzi and the Town of Babylon and Suffolk County Fire Coordinators.
At 04:30 hours on Friday morning a signal 4 was transmitted, and all units picked up at 08:30 hours. Due to the large volume of fire, the difficulty of accessing parts of the school due to the deep snow, and grassy field areas, the 58 year old structure sustained extensive damage with significant areas of roof and wall collapses. The fire is under investigation be the Town of Babylon Fire Marshals, but does not appear to be suspicious. The type of construction wood timber and plank roof contributed to the rapid spread of fire throughout the building as the dry timber fueled the rapidly burning fire.
West Babylon Superintendent of Schools Anthony Cacciola and the members of the School Board held an emergency meeting to make arrangements, for the students that attend South Bay School. An agreement was reached with Our Lady Of Grace Parish for classes to be held temporarily in the unused school building adjacent to the church on Albin Avenue in West Babylon.