Watch CBS News

Explosion Rocks John F. Kennedy High School In The Bronx; 3 Injured

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three workers were injured Thursday night when an explosion severely damaged a high school in the northwest Bronx late Thursday.

The explosion was reported at 8:09 p.m. Thursday night on the sixth floor at John F. Kennedy High School, at 99 Terrace View Ave.

The school is located on the western edge of the neighborhood of Marble Hill -- which is politically part of Manhattan, but geographically in the Bronx. The Department of Education considers the school to be in the Bronx.

As CBS2's Valerie Castro reported, officials said the explosion happened during construction work in a sixth floor science lab at the school. Three workers suffered severe burns.

At least three floors of the building were heavily damaged, officials told CBS2. Photos at the scene showed windows blown out and other interior and exterior damage.

"This school obviously has sustained some very, very serious damage," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the scene. "This was part of a project being run by the school construction authority through a private contractor."

Explosion Rocks John F. Kennedy High School In The Bronx; 3 Injured

Three workers were injured in the explosion, according to the FDNY. One was reported in critical condition, and the other two in serious, but non-life-threatening condition, the FDNY said.

All three were taken to the burn unit at Jacobi Medical Center, the FDNY said.

The mayor said people around the neighborhood felt the blast.

"A very troubling evening for residents here in Marble Hill. They felt a blast. They felt a building shake. I talked to some of the elected officials here – they literally felt it themselves," de Blasio said. "And what we see here at JFK High is a shocking scene."

Indeed, neighbors reported being terrified.

"The room I was in shook. The whole room shook," said Marble Hill resident Emily Langer. "You feel that, 'Oh my God.' We went outside. And our neighbors were like, 'Oh my God, did you feel that? What was that?' And then right away, we heard the sirens."

Neighbors said they thought the worst when the heard the loud boom.

"We thought it was a terrorist attack," said Jackie Morris. "We really did not know what it was."

Explosion Rocks John F. Kennedy High School In The Bronx; 3 Injured

A custodian who was working at the time of the explosion told 1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten what happened.

"There's contractors up there. They're working up there. So they're working up there – I think they're making them do a few classrooms or something like that; chemistry room. And it just broke down when they hit it with a blow torch, and that was it," he said.

The custodian said he smelled natural gas shortly before the explosion, but there was no smoke or fire.

Mayor de Blasio said gas was to blame for the explosion. Con Edison said the gas was shut off in the area.

The school enrolls a total of 1,291 students, according to the Department of Education. The first day of classes for the 2015-2016 school year at the school is set for Sept. 9.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.