HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Residents on a small street near Hastings High School were shell-shocked Thursday morning when an oil-tank explosion rocked Hillside Avenue, claiming the lives of two contractors who were working in the area.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., an explosion rang out from the backyard at 65 Hillside Ave., just a short trip down the block from the high school, officials said.
Residents described hearing a short series of “booms,” before sirens pierced the previously peaceful village. They added that both a priest and the Westchester County Medical Examiner had made visits to the site.
“We heard a loud boom, that must have been when the oil tank exploded, then there were two more smaller booms. Then there were cops everywhere,” neighbor Kim Feeley said. “It’s got me a little rattled. Those poor men and their families.”
The contractors were removing the tank from the ground in the backyard when it exploded and caromed into nearby woods, officials said. There was no additional fire damage. The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, and the victims have not been identified, officials said.
Members of the Greenburgh Police and Fire Department, as well as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, officers with the Department of Environmental Protection and an emergency spill response team were at the scene.
A Hillside resident who lives a half dozen houses away praised the speed of the first responders, who she said were there “one minute, tops,” and the street blocked off shortly thereafter.
“I came out the front door immediately after hearing the bang, and there were response teams flying up and down the block in probably less than a minute,” Hillside Avenue resident Annabelle Winthrop said. “They came very, very fast. You have to praise them; it was impressive.”
At the high school, an emergency alert was sent to parents, warning them the school was entering a temporary lockdown and adding they “would be keeping everyone inside while the situation is handled by local responders.
Georgios Katsionis, who was surveying the damage behind the police caution tape, said he wanted to come see what happened after he received the alert from the school district.
“The schools let us know what happened, so I wanted to just come down here myself and make sure everything was alright,” he said. “I wanted to see what happened first hand. They’ve done a great job of clearing things out.”
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