A seven-alarm fire raged in the East Village after a NYC explosion collapsed multiple buildings and severely damaged others, according to the New York Times. The Thursday afternoon tragedy left at least 19 injured and severely damaged four buildings on Second Avenue after a potentially gas-related explosion shook the neighborhood, prompting locals to escape the scene by any means necessary.
Following the explosion, firefighters were dispatched to 121 Second Avenue, where workers were reportedly updating the building’s plumbing and gas piping. Although the exact cause of the explosion is not yet confirmed, ongoing renovations are likely to blame for the damage. “Preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion,” Mayor Bill de Blasio stated while at the scene.
Witnesses in the area also reported a strong smell of gas immediately before the NYC explosion, Inquisitr reported, which strengthens the possibility that the event can be traced to recent renovations. Firefighters confirmed having difficulty tackling the flames, as they had to retreat to a “defensive outside attack.” During the call, five responders were severely injured and rushed to the hospital.
Approximately one year ago, gas was linked to a different NYC explosion in Harlem, which fatally injured eight and completely demolished two residential buildings. If gas works are determined to be the cause of Thursday’s explosion, those affected by the tragedy may have grounds for a lawsuit. According to personal injury law firm Bohn & Fletcher, “Particularly if negligence was a factor in the explosion, victims suffering from burn injuries, smoke inhalation, or other damages may be entitled to compensation.”
However, much investigation must take place before officials are able to confirm exactly how and why the East Village explosion occurred. In the case of 2014’s Harlem structure fire, an exact cause has not yet been determined as the National Transportation Safety Board is still working to finalize its investigation and report.
A spokesman for Consolidated Edison, Michael S. Clendenin, confirmed that 121 Second Avenue had been undergoing renovations, “Based on records here, the building has had some work done inside; new gas service pipes; a lot of things; piping and such.” Mayor de Blasio confirmed that Con Ed personnel noted the work being done as deficient shortly before the NYC explosion.
As of Friday morning, no deaths have been reported in relation to the incident. However, the search continues for Nicholas Figueroa, an East Village resident who was last seen in the building where the explosion originated. According to family members, a thorough search for the 23-year old in local hospitals and neighborhoods has been unsuccessful.