Tags: new york city | building | collapse | fire | east village

New York City Building Collapse: 2 Still Missing After Explosion, Fire

Image: New York City Building Collapse: 2 Still Missing After Explosion, Fire
Firefighters continue to hose down the site of a seven-alarm fire that caused the collapse of two buildings and damage to two other buildings a day after the blaze took place in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 27 Mar 2015 10:12 AM

Two people who were inside the New York City building that collapsed after a fire Thursday are still unaccounted for Friday, as firefighters worked to extinguish that last few pockets of flames, The Associated Press reported.

Nineteen people were injured, four critically, after an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying Thursday afternoon in Manhattan's trendy East Village. The police department hasn't yet issued official missing-person's reports on the two people who haven't been located, the mayor's office said.

Preliminary evidence suggested that a gas explosion amid plumbing and gas work inside the building was to blame. An hour before the blast, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty.

The explosion caused the collapse of three five-story buildings and damage to a fourth, which was seven stories tall, the Fire Department of New York said.

On Friday, firefighters doused gallons of water over the wreckage, a giant wave of crumbled brick, twisted metal, and splintered wood.

A light rain tamped down much of the acrid burning smell, but neighbors said the sirens and smell from the burning buildings kept them up throughout the night.

Friday morning was the first chance for many to see the damage up close.

Naomi Machado, who has lived in the East Village neighborhood for 35 years, was in tears as she glanced at the rubble on her way to work.

"I'm totally devastated," she said. "For my neighbors, for our neighborhood. We all look out for one another."

Naho Ikechia, 36, was shocked by the scene — and grateful the damage wasn't even greater.

"If it would have been at night, when the restaurants are full and people are home from work, it would have been so much worse," she said. "This is such a busy area."

She grieved for those who lived in the buildings. "All their memories there, destroyed. It's so sad."

Initial evidence pointed to a gas explosion. A plumber was doing work connected to a gas service upgrade, and inspectors for utility company Con Edison had been there, company President Craig Ivey said. But the work failed the inspection, partly because a space for the new meters wasn't big enough, Con Ed said.

The state Department of Public Service was monitoring Con Ed's response.

On Thursday night, Tyler Figueroa said his 23-year-old brother, Nicholas, had disappeared after going on a date at an East Village sushi restaurant, whose facade was still intact Friday.

Figueroa said that the couple was paying for their meal when the blast occurred and that his date, who is in the hospital, remembers only stumbling outside before losing consciousness.

"I just pray my brother shows up," he said. "We just hope my brother comes back."

Diners ran out of their shoes and bystanders helped one another escape the blast, which sent flames shooting into the air, witnesses said. Passers-by were hit by debris and flying glass, and bloodied victims were aided as they sat on sidewalks and lay on the ground.

The blast happened a little over a year after a gas explosion in a building in East Harlem killed eight people and injured about 50. A National Transportation Safety Board report released last week said a leak reported just before the blast may have come from a 3-year-old section of plastic pipe rather than a 127-year-old cast-iron segment that came under scrutiny immediately afterward.

Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that no one had reported a gas leak before Thursday's blast. Con Edison said it had surveyed the gas mains on the block Wednesday and found no leaks.

Bystander Blake Farber, who lives around the corner, said he'd been walking by the building and smelled gas seconds before the big blast.

The explosion was so forceful it blew the door off a cafe across an avenue and left piles of rubble on the sidewalk. Finley said his son helped to lift debris off a man so he could escape the restaurant where they had been eating.

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TheWire
Two people who were inside the New York City building that collapsed after a fire Thursday are still unaccounted for Friday, as firefighters worked to extinguish that last few pockets of flames, The Associated Press reported.
new york city, building, collapse, fire, east village
664
2015-12-27
Friday, 27 Mar 2015 10:12 AM
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