25 victims, including four FDNY firefighters and an EMS worker, are recovering from injuries this morning after a massive gas explosion that occurred in New York City’s East Village. Three large buildings on the corner of 7th and 2nd avenues collapsed as a result of the explosion, injuring scores of people.
A 7-alarm fire blazed through the night. Approximately 250 New York City firemen were deployed to the scene.
Two people are still missing. In the morning following the collapse, workers are searching the rubble hoping to find them alive.
The cause of the explosion is unknown. However, some facts have been made available to the press which may shed some light on what happened.
According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, calls to neither 911 nor Con Edison were placed prior to the blast to report any sort of gas leak or concerns. However, Con Ed was present at the site about an hour before the incident. They were there to evaluate a gas upgrade in relation to the plumbing work going on at the construction site.
The construction being done at Sushi Park included an upgrade to the gas mains, which did not pass Con Ed inspections. The inspectors presented workers with a checklist of changes that need to be made before the gas meter swap could be approved and left the scene.
The evacuation attempt came too late. Investigators believe a construction worker soon thereafter struck a gas main, causing the blast before the restaurant could be cleared. The flames and smoke from the explosion were visible in most of Manhattan.
Following the explosion, Con Edison immediately began shutting down gas service in the area as a safety precaution.
The initial radio dispatch advised firefighters “not to enter the building at all … Remain outside the building. The first two floors of 121 are totally collapsed. It’s a five-story, non-fireproof building.”
New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro described the process of containing the flames as a “very long night,” during which approximately 250 firefighters were deployed to the scene. As of this morning, 125 2nd Ave, one of the buildings caught in the blast, is still on fire.
The buildings that have collapsed under the weight of the damage are Numbers 121, 123, and 119. Included in these buildings were several businesses, including popular restaurant Pommes Frites, a nail salon, and a women’s clothing boutique, all of which were open for business at the time of the gas explosion.
The Office of Emergency Management is clearing debris this morning while the NYPD monitors air quality. They advise that an odor will linger in the area but does not necessarily indicate any risk of polluted air.
At least four of the victims assessed at the scene of the blast are in critical condition. The Red Cross relief center that has been set up to respond to this tragedy is at PS 63, on 121 E. 23rd Street.