Officials: Explosion at suburban NYC college

12:52 PM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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NYACK, N.Y.  --   At least seven people were injured in an explosion that occurred just before noon Tuesday in a building on the campus of Nyack College, officials said.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, but people at the scene said the odor of gas hung over the campus. Officials from Orange and Rockland Utilities were at the scene.

The extent of the injuries was not clear, according to Gordon Wren Jr., Rockland's fire and emergency services coordinator.

But Robert Van Cura, an undersheriff for the Rockland Sheriff's Department and former South Nyack-Grandview police chief, said none of the injuries appeared to be life threatening.

A spokeswoman for Nyack Hospital said the facility's emergency response plan was activated just after noon. Two patients were brought to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the hospital was told to expect five more victims, also with non life-threatening injuries, spokeswoman Lauren Malone said.

"There's a lot of people hurt," said South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian, moments after arriving on the scene. "There's a lot of people injured. We got ambulances up here galore."

Windows and the door to the building were blown out by the force of the explosion, witnesses said. The two-story stone building was seriously damaged.

The explosion occurred at 177 S. Highland Ave., the location of the college's Sky Island Lodge. The building is home to the Academic Success Center, according to Nyack College's website.

The building that was converted into the Sky Island Lodge was purchased around 2000 and renovated to become home to a wireless computer labor with six classrooms and a tutorial center at the time. It was formerly a carriage house for the Clarkstown Country Club.

Nyack Middle School is located next to Nyack College but was not damaged by the explosion, Nyack schools superintendent James Montesano said.

"There is no request to have our kids evacuated," Montesano said. "They are not in any danger zone."

Students at the middle school were being kept indoors for the rest of the day.

The district's offices are located a few hundred yards away and Montesano said he heard the explosion.

"It shook everybody," he said.

The building is located at the north end of the campus.

Firefighters from numerous departments were headed to the college.

By: Jane Lerner, Steve Lieberman and Khurram Saeed/


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