Four Stonehill College students and two others injured in explosion that leveled North Easton home

Vicki-Ann Downing

Four Stonehill College students, a Bay State Gas worker and an Easton police officer were injured when a gas explosion this morning leveled a duplex house in North Easton where the students lived.

The four students were not immediately identified but college officials said they are all men, juniors and seniors at the nearby college.

Gas company workers and others helped pull the students from the burning 29 Jenny Lind St. home after the explosion, officials said. They were taken to Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.

Two other students who also rented the two-story, off-campus residence were not there when the blast occurred shortly after 11 a.m. Monday.

Easton police officer Leonard Coe, who was working a detail at the Bay State Gas site, was injured but remained on duty for a while before going to the hospital. His injuries were not believed to be serious.

An unidentified Bay State Gas worker wounded in the blast was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, officials said.

The explosion shook the surrounding neighborhood, a thickly settled older residential area, and blast debris was found blocks away. A house next door to the destroyed duplex may have sustained damage.

One student who lived in the duplex, Rob Gilbreth, 20, a junior from Franklin, N.H., was on campus when he heard about the explosion and rushed to the scene. He said the students lost everything in the blaze, including all their clothing, plasma TVs and other items.

By early afternoon, fire crews were still pouring water on the rubble that was all that remained of the house. Fire and ambulance crews from several communities responded to help Easton personnel, including Brockton, Sharon and Stoughton.

Stonehill College posted a statement on its Web site about the explosion.

“The Easton Fire Department and Bay State Gas are investigating the cause of the explosion, which destroyed the house,” the statement said.

“Upon hearing the news, Stonehill President Rev. Mark Cregan, C.S.C., and Vice President Rev. John Denning, C.S.C., went directly to the site and are now on their way to the hospital to visit the injured students,” the statement said. “The college is providing counseling for any students affected and has also offered on-campus housing to the (displaced) students.”