An explosion rocked the East Village neighbourhood of Manhattan shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday, causing a massive fire and a partial building collapse.
CBS New York cites FDNY officials who say 19 people were injured, four of them critically.
The station says 5 members of the FDNY were among the injured.
The FDNY said more than 200 emergency responders arrived on the scene to battle the 7-alarm blaze, which erupted near St. Marks and East 2nd Avenue.
NBC New York is reporting that law enforcement has told them a work crew hit a gas line inside a sushi restaurant and that started the fire.
Here’s a map of the location:
Authorities told DNA Info that the explosion was consistent with a gas explosion. ConEd shut off gas in the East Village area of 2nd Avenue as a precaution that is taken in any emergency situation involving a fire, a spokesperson told Business Insider. ConEd has also sent crews to investigate the situation.
The explosion caused the collapse of a five story apartment building, according to FDNY, and the subsequent fire apparently spread to two other buildings. City building and fire officials say so far at least 2 buildings have collapsed.
Karen Kolatka was at Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue between 6th and 7th Street, directly across from the explosion. “We saw the biggest flames shooting out beyond the roof …the smoke was almost as wide as the block.”
A man who was nearby when it happened told us, “it was the loudest boom I ever heard. There was debris everywhere and people running and screaming.”
A nearby NYU student told us, “I breathed a little in and it was complete smoke. It was really bad.”
“Everything’s blocked from [St. Mark’s Place] to 7th” an NYPD officer on the scene told Business Insider. “They’re afraid more buildings are going to collapse.”
“We heard a big sound, then three or four people fell on the street,” Shameem Noor, a cashier at a restaurant about a block away, told Reuters.
“People were running and screaming,” he said. “There’s a big fire on the roof and black smoke.”
The images coming in show the intensity:
Here’s what the scene looked like before the explosion:
And here’s a crazy video of the fire:
Christina Sterbenz and Peter Jacobs contributed to this report.
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