13 people are thought to be injured after an explosion and partial building collapse occurred at a building in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday.
There are flames shooting into the sky from two buildings as the New York Fire Department tries to tame the fire and prevent it spreading to other nearby buildings.
A total of 13 people have been confirmed to be injured in the fire, four of them critically, the FDNY told WCBS. Two of the three critically injured individuals suffered from serious burns while the other was unconscious. All have been transported to hospitals for treatment.
Belleview Hospital is keeping people across the street from the emergency room entrance, perhaps expecting more victims to be transported there, WCBS reported.
The raging fire has been upgraded to a seven-alarm call at the mixed-occupancy building that the fire department called “a major building collapse” in a tweet. There are 25 units in the building, according to the New York Times, and 100 firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene.
At least one person was removed from the area on a stretcher, WABC reported, noting that the building appeared to be a total loss.
“I was going to have sushi at that place, and then I decided to get Ramen, so it’s only like three doors down,” a witness named Alexandria told WABC. “And then all the sudden, the whole building shook, and it looked like the glass was like rubber as it shook, and it pushed me forward. And I ran out, and I saw people climbing out of the building. I saw one woman bleeding profusely, and she was out of it and didn’t know where she was going.”
“This is being considered a major emergency,” an FDNY spokeswoman told the Daily News.
The “smoke is overwhelming” at the scene, Allie Yang tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, she said that the fire department is closing of the area around 7th St and 2nd Avenue.
The explosion occurred around 3:15 p.m. ET, and the fire quickly got out of hand, with the FDNY upgrading it from a two-alarm to a seven-alarm call within half an hour. A seven-alarm emergency means that about 250 firefighters were on the location from about 50 fire department units.
“The entire first and second floor facades were destroyed,” a witness told WCBS, who said that the explosion originated in a sushi bar in the apartment building.
Nearby buildings have been evacuated.
— Allie Yang (@allieallieooop) March 26, 2015
The New York Police Department has initially listed a gas leak as the cause of the explosion. There are counterterror officials on the scene, which is standard procedure for a large explosion, WCBS reported. However, the NYPD has ruled out terrorism as the cause. Two firefighters were reported injured, according to the Daily News. There are counterterror officials on the scene, which is standard procedure for a large explosion, WCBS reported.
ConEdison, the utility for the city, said it was shutting down gas to the area.
“I’m sure there are fatalities in there,” a neighbor told WCBS.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton are on route to the explosion, WCBS reported. Firefighters had to pull back from their battle with the flames because of the intensity, WABC reported.
There was a loud explosion that shook the whole block, windows shook and when we walked out to look and investigate the whole building on Second Avenue and Seventh was blown out,” Brandon Boudwin, who works at nearby Anthony Aiden Opticians, told 1010 WINS.
Day laborers told cops they had been working on a gas line inside the kitchen, and there were 911 reports of possible gas leak just before the blast, a source told the NY Post.
— Josh Flitter (@Josh_Flitter) March 26, 2015
ConEdison was at the building earlier today, with work being done on a gas line by a private contractor in the basement at the time of the explosion, the NYPD confirmed to WCBS.
The tall flames and smoke could be seen from at least 20 blocks north, WCBS reported.
The Thursday explosion happened just over a year after a gas leak caused an explosion and building collapse that killed eight people in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood.