Building Explosion leaves 1 dead, 15 Injured In New York City
Firefighters respond to a fire on 116th Street in Harlem after a building exploded in huge flames and billowing black smoke, leading to the collapse of at least one building and several injuries, Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
An explosion followed by a fire at an apartment building in upper Manhattan on Wednesday has left one person dead and at least 15 people injured, officials say.
According to ABC's New York affiliate, at least one of those injured experienced "heavy trauma." The conditions of the others were not immediately known.
The FDNY said it received a call shortly after 9:30 a.m. reporting a large explosion in the five-story apartment building on Park Avenue near 116th Street in East Harlem.
The fire department confirmed that the explosion involved multiple buildings, and escalated the response to five alarms, with 39 units and 168 members responding. According to public records, the address that firefighters initially reponded — 1646 Park Ave. — to was built in 1910.
Reached by phone, an employee of the man who owns the building told Yahoo News that she didn't know what might have sparked the blast. The 5-story building is home to four floors of apartments and Absolute Piano on the street level. The employee said everyone at the piano shop was safe.
According to multiple reports, Con Ed was responding to a report of a gas leak at the building before the explosion.
The Associated Press reports that police, including some wearing gas masks, "handed out medical masks to residents and onlookers because of the thick white smoke that shrouded the area."
Some witnesses described a chaotic scene.
“The whole building shook,” one nearby worker told the New York Post.
"I saw a lady running with no shoes on," another told Agence France-Press. "It was crazy. It was like a war zone. ... I thought it was an earthquake. I got calls from my family who felt it too and that was all the way up town."
The explosion occured near elevated train tracks, and Metro North train service into and out of New York's Grand Central Terminal was temporarily suspended.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was en route to the scene, his office said. According to the White House, President Obama was briefed on the incident in New York by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security & Counterterrorism.
source Yahoo News