Authorities said a worker hit a gas line in Wappingers Falls, causing an explosion that leveled a building
At least 15 people were injured in Wappingers Falls, New York Thursday, following an explosion that leveled a building.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE Friday, Paul Italiano, the police commissioner for the Wappingers Falls Police Department, said that first responders arrived following a report of a gas leak and then an explosion in the area of Brick Row around 12:17 p.m.
“Upon arrival, [an] initial responding officer encountered two children and a mother with severe blast injuries and burns. Additional victims who were working at the location were located in the immediate area,” Italiano said, adding that the Wappinger Falls Fire Department “simultaneously worked to free a trapped worker from under the rubble.”
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A triage area was set up for the victims, with several of them in critical condition and airlifted to a nearby hospital, Italiano said. Additionally, five first responders were treated and released from area hospitals after suffering minor injuries and smoke inhalation.
“Out of the 15 victims, at this time seven have been treated and released. Eight are at Westchester Medical Center [with their] status undisclosed,” Italiano confirmed.
ABC affiliate WABC-TV reported, per authorities, that Central Hudson contractors were doing routine maintenance when they hit a 3/4-inch gas service line, prompting the explosion and fire.
In Italiano's statement, the police department confirmed the surrounding buildings in the Brick Row area are "structurally safe" and that "there is no danger to the public." Residents who were displaced by the explosion were housed at area hotels.
According to Italiano, authorities do not "believe there is any criminal aspect to this case," but the Wappingers Falls Police Department Detective Division is conducting an investigation of the incident.
At a press briefing Thursday, Wappinger Falls Fire Chief Jason Enson praised the work done by first responders as well as local residents who provided help. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he told reporters. “I think they did a remarkable job.”
Marcie Ward, a witness, told NBC affiliate WNBC-TV that her house shook upon the explosion. "A little boy was being carried out, burnt really bad," Ward said.
Floriant Shabanaj, a construction worker, recalled to CBS affiliate WCBS-TV: "We hear the exploding, it shakes the building ... and then we run, with my brother, we run over here to help the people.”
In a Facebook post Thursday, Central Hudson wrote: “Our thoughts are with those who were affected by the terrible incident that occurred in Wappingers Falls including those in the residences who were injured as well as the contractors and first responders at the site.
“Central Hudson workers arrived at the location shortly after the report of an explosion to secure the area and turn off natural gas in the neighborhood,” the post continued. “We will continue to work with all authorities to make sure there is a complete and thorough investigation into the incident.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also released a statement about the incident, writing: “I have been briefed on the building collapse in Dutchess County and have deployed State emergency services personnel to assist in response efforts. As the situation develops, I urge all New Yorkers to follow the direction of law enforcement and other first responders working to keep the community safe.”
“I join all New Yorkers in praying for the Village of Wappingers Falls,” she added.
PEOPLE reached out to the office of Wappingers Falls Mayor Kevin Huber for comment.
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