Seven people were injured in a gas explosion at Nyack College in Rockland County Tuesday, and one, a student, either jumped from a second-floor window or was thrown out of it by the blast, town and police officials said.
All of the victims were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, authorities said. The explosion rocked a small building that houses both administrative offices and classrooms. In addition to the injured student, the victims included six staff members with Nyack College's business school.
The school is on summer break, and the student was taking an exam.
The force of the blast shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in the building; one steel door was blown 50 feet across the street. Officials said the explosion also caused a small fire that was quickly brought under control by the building's sprinkler system.
"I felt the house shake a little bit, and I felt like something dropped in the basement," said Leo Li, a student who was nearby.
Several students said it was a miracle that one woman left the building with a friend's baby just before the explosion.
"I believe if the baby was there, the baby maybe would have died," said Piero Goritti.
Firefighters and emergency crews from multiple departments as well as utility companies were called to the Christian college on South Highland Avenue shortly before noon.
"There was a smell of gas in the building prior to the explosion," said Robert Van Cura, an undersheriff with the Rockland County Police Department.
Gas was shut off in the area, and the situation was under control a short time later, authorities said. Officials checked to make sure there were no elevated gas levels at other buildings on campus.
Officials believe the explosion originated in the basement or first floor of the building.
Students at a middle school adjacent to the college were moved off-site as a precaution, and a number of buildings on campus were evacuated.
Nyack is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance that offers undergraduate, graduate and seminary programs.