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Transformer Explodes Outside Library At St. John's Staten Island Campus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Con Edison said lightning may be to blame for a transformer explosion and fire that broke out in the Staten Island campus of St. John's University.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, investigators said the fire began on a pole and spread to a transformer that feeds the campus, located at 300 Howard Ave. in the Silver Lake section of Staten Island. The transformer sent enough voltage to the library to knock down an interior wall, officials said.

Flames were also reported in an electrical room at the library building, officials said.

Dozens of firefighters were seen at the scene. Many of them worked to extinguish the fire on the utility pole, which was still burning when CBS2 arrived at the scene.

A transformer and pole erupted in flames at St. John's University on Staten Island on Saturday, May 16. (Credit: CBS2)

Other firefighters were clustered and gathered around the library itself, examining the damaged wall.

St. John's held its graduation on Saturday, and the campus was largely empty Saturday night. But a few students were present, and they told CBS2 what they heard.

"Electricity poles was on fire, and it was sparking; it looked like fireworks," a woman said.

"I was sitting inside, and all I heard was a big boom, and I just wondered what happened," a man said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Con Edison said the incident was being investigated as a possible lightning strike. There were no outages on campus, Con Ed said.

Late Saturday, firefighters were ventilating the building due to high levels of carbon monoxide.

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