Transformer explosion causes evacuation at JWU campus

About 1,000 students were evacuated from Johnson & Wales University Tuesday morning following an underground explosion.

No students were hurt, but a number of them were frustrated.

"I'm hoping this is not what the rest of the year is going to be like," freshman Allie Calcagni said.

She said the explosion shook the building.

"I heard a really loud boom and thought it was thunder," Calcagni said.

The explosion happened at about 4:30 a.m. on Pine Street. A National Grid transformer under the sidewalk exploded, cutting power to both McNulty and Snowden dormitories.

"The electrical damage is pretty extensive and will require some significant repairs," Executive Director of Campus Safety and Security Michael Quinn said. "Nothing like a fire drill on the first day back."

Quinn said he's pleased with how quickly and efficiently residential life was able to get students out of their rooms. Students were allowed back into the building for a few minutes Tuesday morning to gather belongings before heading to class.

"It was disgusting. The power was out. The water was brown. I'm not happy," student Adam Freeman said.

Quinn said he believes the brown water students saw Tuesday morning was a result of the explosion, too.

"The simultaneous appearance of the brown water was probably related to the explosion, probably shaking up some rust in some pipes," Quinn said.

The university is operating on emergency generator power. The buildings have been deemed structurally safe by the fire department, and students are expected to sleep in their dorm rooms Tuesday evening.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.