Update #6 from KQQQ
All of the University of Idaho students injured in this month’s explosion on campus are out of the hospital. The last student was released from Gritman Medical Center in Moscow late last week. The students were members of a campus rocket club that were testing a fuel when the blast occurred on the evening of the 13th outside the steam plant. The UI is still investigating.
Update #5 from KQQQ
2 more UI students injured in Thursday night’s explosion on campus released from the hospital
Two more University of Idaho students injured in Thursday night’s explosion on campus are out of the hospital. One student remains in good condition at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow. The blast at a parking lot outside the steam plant involved a student group testing a fuel for a model rocket. Four students were injured. The UI is still investigating.
Update #4 from KQQQ
The 4 University of Idaho students injured in last night’s rocket fuel experiment explosion on campus are in stable condition. UI officials held a second press conference this morning about the blast that occurred outside the campus steam plant shortly before 10:00. All 4 students have undergone surgery and are recovering at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow. Their identities have not been released. Officials say the university sanctioned Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers were testing a rocket fuel in a galvanized pipe when it exploded. The device was sitting on a wooden pallet. The institution is reviewing the incident. FBI and ATF agents have been brought in to assist the Moscow Police Department with their investigation. Moscow Police Chief James Fry says the probe is not a criminal investigation at this time. The explosion last night is no affecting classes today the UI.
Update #3: From Moscow-Pullman Daily News
UI students recovering after explosion
Agencies investigating many aspects of rocket fuel explosion outside steam plant
The four University of Idaho students injured when the rocket fuel they were testing exploded Thursday night in a parking lot east of the university steam plant have all been upgraded to good condition or released from Gritman Medical Center in Moscow.
Gritman President and CEO Kara Besst said Friday that three of the students were in good condition – which she added means their vital signs are stable and they are conscious and comfortable – and the fourth had been released.
Three of the injured students are enrolled in the College of Engineering and are part of a UI organization called Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers. As part of the test they were performing, the fuel, which is being designed for model rockets, was placed in a galvanized metal pipe, 8 to 12 inches in length and about 1.5 inches in diameter, and ignited, causing the unexpected explosion, which was heard throughout town. Dan Ewart, UI vice president for infrastructure, emphasized that the intention of the experiment was not to launch a rocket into the air but to test the rocket fuel.
Grant Thurman, a member of NORE, said the student who lit the fuel was wearing a face shield and those watching the experiment were wearing eye protection.
Ewart said the university and other agencies investigating are trying to determine how many people were present in the parking lot at the time of the explosion.
“The safety of our entire Vandal family is always our utmost concern,” Ewart said. “We wish the injured students a full recovery and will continue to keep the community informed of updates as they’re available.”
Ewart said a faculty member was present at the experiment, and he said the UI rocket club is a sanctioned university group, although an investigation into whether the event was sanctioned is being conducted.
The university is cooperating with local law enforcement and its investigation, Ewart said. The UI will be conducting a thorough review of the incident also, he said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are involved in the investigation. The Moscow Police Department is also investigating, but Chief James Fry said there is not a criminal investigation taking place.
Two Vandal Alerts were issued Thursday night and Friday morning informing students and other community members of the incident. The first alert was sent out 53 minutes after the incident was reported to local law enforcement at 9:52 p.m.
Jodi Walker, UI director of communications, said the university checks the safety and condition of students, staff and faculty first, makes sure the scene is secure and then communicates the situation to the public. She said she believes the university handled the situation properly and in a timely fashion.
Ewart indicated Friday morning that all four students were out of surgery and recovering. During a Thursday night news conference, Ewart said three of the students were in stable condition and one was in critical condition. Ewart said university officials spoke with all four students and their parents Thursday night and Friday morning.
Ewart said he did not have information on the extent of the students’ injuries, and the identities of the students have not been released at the request of the students.
Update #2: From the LMT
The four individuals injured in an explosion Thursday night were out of surgery and recovering Friday morning, according to officials.
Dan Ewart, vice president of infrastructure for UI, declined to identify the individuals — all students — at a press conference Friday morning. All remained at Gritman Medical Center, but additional information about their conditions was not available.
The Thursday night incident reportedly involved a student club, the Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers, testing rocket fuel for model rockets, Ewart said. An unknown type of fuel and a galvanized metal pipe were reportedly placed on top of a wooden pallet in a parking lot near the UI steam plants. The fuel was then ignited in an unknown fashion, reportedly resulting in an explosion that destroyed the wooden pallet.
At least one of the students injured was wearing protective gear that covered the face, Ewart said. Three of those injured were engineering students, while one was not.
It is not known why the experiment was scheduled for Thursday night or why it was located in a parking lot on the university campus. The faculty advisor of the student club was reportedly in attendance for the experiment.
A chapter of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is reportedly assisting the Moscow Police Department in their investigation. Both Moscow police and UI will conduct investigations, Ewart said.
UI club was testing rocket fuel near steam plan on campus. Via the Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
An explosion outside the University of Idaho steam plant on the corner of Sixth and Line streets just before 10 p.m. Thursday sent four people to the hospital, according to the university.
Daniel Ewart, UI vice president for infrastructure, said in a press conference that one person was in critical condition and three were in stable condition. He believes they were transported to Gritman Medical Center.
Grant Thurman, a member of the Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers, a relatively new UI club, said the club tried testing rocket fuel the club created. He said one of the co-presidents lit the fuel and an explosion followed. Thurman said the man who lit the fuel was wearing a face shield and club members watching wore eye protection. The other co-president who stood near the explosion wore eye protection but not a face shield, Thurman said.
The man who lit the fuel received most of the damage from the explosion but was in good spirits, Thurman said.
No damage was reported at the steam plant and the campus is now safe, Ewart said.
Per standard protocol, the FBI did investigate the scene Thursday night.