June 6, 2017- Word has spread fast about an incident near North Bethesda Middle School (NBMS) in Bethesda, MD. Around 8 p.m. a fire was discovered along with two eighth grade students, names unannounced, who brought gasoline to the sewer tunnel located near the school and attempted to light the sewer on fire. Other eighth-graders were found observing near the fire as well.. All students involved were rushed to the hospital, one still in critical condition due to minor burns and smoke inhalation.
The scent of smoke and gasoline was reported by residents on Bulls Run Road, parallel to the school, and got the attention of the local officials who went to investigate the scene. The sewer is located on Bradmoor Drive; other neighborhood residents became curious due to the helicopters hovering over Greentree Rd and Hillmead Road.
The local news station, WTOP, did not report the story right away which caused many concerned parents to remain out of the loop and to become stressed since the incident was so close to many students’ homes and school.
Police on the scene told passing neighborhood residents that there was a fire started in the woods at the end of Bradmoor Drive by the middle school.
Eighth grader Elena Eisen, who was not involved at the scene, started to get worried when the helicopters arrived on the scene.
“There were a lot of fire trucks in the beginning, but when the helicopters arrived, the fear factor increased,” Eisen said.
Along with the general fear of not knowing who was in danger or the details of the event at the time it happened, rumors were spreading around causing more stress among the households,
“Some people were told not to drink the tap water due to the ‘flammable objects’ that were found in the sewer,” Eisen explained.
The parents of the children involved decided not to release their children’s names to the media, but once the children recover, their identities will be revealed at school.
There is still no word of a message from NBMS to any parents or the community about the incident. Julie Greenstein, parent of two NBMS students, was not informed of the fire and feels as though it was not necessary for the school to notify the parents.
“While it was close to the school, it was not on school property and the incident did not happen during school hours,” Greenstein said. Like many families, Greenstein believed this event was minor and did not really affect her daily routine.
The overall result of this event was a stressful evening for a small community of curious parents and neighbors, but many shook off this incident and are glad the officials dealt with it in the manner they did.