Thursday afternoon in New York’s East Village, a huge explosion rocked the area of East 7th and 2nd Avenue. New York City firefighters quickly responded to the scene and spent several hours battling the blaze, but eventually the buildings just gave way and collapsed. At least twelve people are reported to be injured at this time.
According to CNN, authorities from New York’s gas utility company, Consolidated Edison, were in the area of the scene of the explosion about an hour before the blast occurred. Mayor Bill de Blasio told the media that the inspectors, who found gas work at the building “unacceptable” and recommended changes, are now talking to investigators.
Unfortunately for the residents of the buildings that were affected by the explosion, the utility company was much too late in their discovery of the shoddy gas work.
After what initially appears to be a gas-like explosion, a seven-alarm fire erupted that required about 250 of New York City’s firefighters to respond to the area and fight the blaze that started inside the first building. Witnesses say that you could see flames and dark black smoke shooting out of the tops of the buildings, and the scene was complete chaos. Several people could be seen running down the fire escapes, and emergency personnel had to be taken away on stretchers because of exposure problems.
The large fire quickly spread to nearby buildings, causing one building to be completely destroyed by the fire, another to collapse, and two nearby buildings to be badly damaged. One of those buildings is still in danger of collapse.
Firefighters are reporting that of the twelve people reported injured, at least four of the victims have critical injuries and remain hospitalized.
Blake Farber, a 29-year-old film director, was one of the witnesses at the scene. He tells the New York Times about what happened when the explosion first occurred. Farber says that he smelled a strong odor of gas, and he watched what looked like men working at the site start to run around frantically on the street. Second later he felt a huge blast, and was quickly surrounded by a large cloud of black smoke.
“And then I saw a bunch of people running out of the restaurant — I saw a man crawling on the ground… He was crawling and he turned around and his face was bloody. Then I saw some guy getting out of the basement, the metal grate, and he looked like a worker, who works in the kitchen. He was crawling out, his face was full of dust and his mouth was full of dust. His hands were sticking out and his arms kind of saying, help me.”
The first 911 calls began to come into the emergency call center around 3:17 p.m., and callers described hearing a loud explosion. At 3:59 p.m. a loud rumble sound could be heard throughout the area, and people on the scene began to notice that the lower part of one building was starting to shake and shift. Moments later, the building collapsed to the sidewalk in a pile of dust, glass, and debris.
This is not the first gas related explosion in New York City that caused buildings to collapse. Last year in March, a gas leak caused a large explosion that injured dozens and killed two people. The Inquisitr reported on the East Harlem explosion that required more than 255 firefighters to get the blaze under control.
[Photo courtesy of video screenshot/Scott Westerfeld]