4 injured in University of Idaho explosion

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) - One University of Idaho student is in critical condition and three others are reported as stable following an explosion in a school parking lot where people had gathered to test an experimental rocket, a school official says.

Vice President for Infrastructure Daniel Ewart said the explosion happened just before 10 p.m. Thursday outside the steam plant of the northern Idaho school.

The four injured students were transported to Gritman Medical Center. Their names haven't been released. A hospital spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.

The school said the students were alert and communicating with school officials early Friday morning, and that their parents had been notified.

Grant Thurman, a student and member of the Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers, said the club tried testing rocket fuel, but when one of the club's co-presidents ignited the fuel, it exploded.

"We were testing a new fuel design for the rocket engine and we didn't have reason to believe it would blow up or anything because it was a slow-burning fuel," Thurman said. "But as soon as it was lit, it blew up."

Thurman said the man igniting the fuel wore face protection, but the other co-president standing nearby wore only eye protection. He said other club members also wore eye protection.

The club is made up of students and faculty who design and test rockets. It's not clear if any faculty were present at the time of the explosion.

The school said there's no damage to the steam plant.

The school said the Moscow Police Department is investigating and that the FBI also responded.