New York Building Collapse Shakes Neighborhood, Leaves 12 Injured

A New York building collapse left 12 people injured when a five-story brick building in Chinatown caught fire and exploded, sending shock waves through the neighborhood.

The building was home to a bus company and other businesses on its first floor and four additional stories of apartments above. At just before 1 pm on Thursday the fire department received an emergency call that there was a fire and an explosion that shattered windows on the first three floors.

Fire Chief John Bley said firefighters could see flames in the back of the building once they arrived and a minor collapse inside. They are not sure what started the fire, but think pesticide canisters stored inside the building may have been the cause of the explosions.

A resident in an upstairs apartment said it sounded like a bombing or an earthquake. The man said he made it out safely but saw a firefighter carrying a woman whose leg was very badly injured. Another victim had to be evacuated from a third-story window after the New York building collapse.

“I heard ‘boom’,” said Yi Len, a Long Island resident visiting a doctor when the explosion happened on the building’s ground floor. He said the smell of smoke lingered for about 20 minutes afterward.

Within 45 minutes firefighters brought the blaze under control.

The fire and partial collapse of the building sent three people to the hospital and left four New York firefighters with less severe injuries, including burns.

Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Boyce said the building has “existing fire code violations” that are now being investigated. After the New York building collapse, Consolidated Edison shut off gas to the building as a precaution, which a spokesman said is routine.