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U of I students injured in explosion recovering, one released from hospital

U of I students injured in explosion...

MOSCOW, Idaho - An explosion on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow sent four students to the hospital Thursday night, where three are still recovering.

Things are getting back to normal on the University of Idaho campus, but Thursday night, the parking lot near the steam plant on campus was a different scene after four students were injured in an explosion.

Freshman James Trayford heard a bang from his fraternity house just before 10 p.m.

"I was sitting in the house talking to a couple other brothers and we heard the explosion, ran outside immediately and ran down to the steam plant with my camera to go take some pictures and just check out what was going on there," said Trayford.

James arrived at the parking lot of west 6th Street.

"I showed up before the police department and the fire department showed up," he explained. "The first thing I did see were some students and a faculty member there. Four students on the ground that didn't seem very responsive, but shortly there after the emergency vehicles showed up."

The University of Idaho says the students were part of a student group called the Northwest Organization for Rocket Engineers, and they were testing experimental rocket fuel, when their rocket exploded.

"It was a galvanized metal pipe," explained Dan Ewart with the University of Idaho. "Somewhere between eight inches and twelve inches in length, about an inch and a half in diameter."

James was impressed by the emergency responders' quick response.

"Moscow Fire Department and the EMT service, they're all volunteer which is really amazing," he said. "But the first call and the explosion was at 9:52 they reported earlier. I was there about 9:53, and they were coming down the road already so that fast of a response time. I would say they had everybody out of there within fifteen minutes in ambulances and out of there all four people that were injured, which is truly incredible considering the circumstances."

The students were taken to Gritman Medical Center and treated for their injuries. Gritman also credited the quick response of emergency personnel, and hospital staff who came into help.

"It went very smooth," said Kara Besst, President and CEO of Gritman Medical Center. "We've been practicing in the past on incidents so all of that practice has really helped pay off and went really smooth dealing with the families, students coming in and treating the injured."

Besst says the hospital works closely with law enforcement and ems to make sure they're ready for this type of situation, including taking part in a recent regional drill earlier this month.

"We have a great relationship with our EMS and our police department so they were very responsive in getting our information to us so that way we could call in the appropriate people," she said, "so [I'm] very proud of the team we have here in our community in Moscow."

The University of Idaho says it is conducting a thorough investigation of this incident, and the names of the students haven't been released.

"University employees spoke with all four students and their parents both last night and early this morning and our understanding is that all of them are out of surgery and in recovery at this time," Ewart said. "No other injuries were reported in the incident."

As of Friday afternoon, Gritman Medical Center says three of the students are in good condition and one has been treated and released.