MSU continues clean-up, reconstruction of New Richmond Hall after June explosion

(Photo courtesy: J.P.'s Traffic Information/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy: J.P.'s Traffic Information/Facebook)
(Source: cNews)
(Source: cNews)
(Source: Charles Churchill/Twitter)
(Source: Charles Churchill/Twitter)
(Source: J.P.'s Traffic Information/Facebook)
(Source: J.P.'s Traffic Information/Facebook)

MURRAY, KY (KFVS) - After the June 28 explosion, progress is being made in clean-up and reconstruction efforts at Murray State University.

The explosion happened on June 28 around 4:53 p.m. at New Richmond Hall, a residential building on the MSU campus.

The process of reconstruction began soon after and remains ongoing. A portion of the structure is currently undergoing reconstruction. An investigation is currently being led by the state fire marshal's office.

The four-story brick building was opened in 2009.

An employee who survived an explosion at one of the buildings on the Murray State University campus is speaking out about what happened.

Dakota Fields, 26, was injured in the explosion on June 28. Fields was the university's former residential director who was about to start a new job at Western Illinois University.

He says he is lucky to be alive.

He says he will have scars for the rest of his life but knows it could have been a lot worse

"It is truly a God given miracle that I survived."

He was treated for injuries at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Murray State News obtained surveillance video from inside the building.

Four other buildings were damaged: Hester, Clark, and Hart - as well as Winslow cafeteria. Those buildings all had windows blown out of them. Crews are working to get all of those windows either boarded up or replaced.

Cleanup and rebuilding projects are ongoing at Murray State University.

According to Adrienne King, the Vice President of University Advancement, 45 volunteers worked on Friday and Saturday, July 1-2, to collect student's belongings out of New Richmond Hall.

Investigators said natural gas is likely to blame for the explosion that left one university employee injured.

According to Kentucky State Police Trooper Jody Cash, it is now considered a non-criminal investigation. KSP has reportedly relinquished its control of the investigation to the state fire marshal.

The housing office has been working on dorm assignments for the upcoming year. King said there will not be any room rate increases as a result of the explosion.

According to King, those who wish to stay in their residential college system that would have been housed in New Richmond Hall can opt to move into the original Richmond Hall. Those that stay in old Richmond Hall will be offered a $2,000 per semester housing discount.

The Murray State University president spoke out about the dorm explosion and moving forward in a letter on July 3.

President Bob Davies said he is extremely grateful to all of the Murray State family members and said by all accounts, they are extremely fortunate.

"We can, and will, replace and rebuild structures," Davies said. "During this time, we must remember the spirit of community that embraced us all as we responded in support of others."

You can read the full letter below.

More than 400 people in the surrounding area were relocated as a precaution according to one official. Some were relocated to other dorms and others were in off-campus locations.

University President Bob Davies said all of the students participating in the Governor's Scholars Program, the Commonwealth Honors Academy, and the Adventures in Math and Science Programs are all safe and accounted for, as are the summer school students living on campus. All people displaced by the explosion have been relocated.

Officials with the school have also said they will offer counseling to anyone affected by the explosion.

President Davies sent a letter to thank all the first responders who responded. That letter, in part, said:

"The incident at New Richmond is devastating in many ways as it makes us aware of the fragility of many things in our lives. At the same time, based on the response of many, the work of our team, the joining together to ensure safety and security demonstrates too the power of our Racer community."

Some witnesses said they could hear the boom from the explosion from a mile away.

"We're sort of shocked. You know its, its crazy you know, nothing like this happens in Murray. You know if it's not a twister or the winds that come through, it''s just crazy," one Murray resident said.

According to KSP, they were being assisted by the Kentucky Office of Emergency Management, the State Fire Marshall's Office and the ATF.

According to Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, roads near the campus of Murray State have reopened to traffic. Waldrop Street will remain closed between Chestnut Street and KY 121 as the investigation progresses.

School officials have also said that the fall semester will start on schedule.

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Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.