Major explosion causes building collapse, fire on Second Ave. at East 7th

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By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A building on Second Avenue near East 7th Street has collapsed due to an explosion and fire earlier this afternoon, the FDNY confirmed. The collapse occurred at 123 Second Avenue and  FDNY said that 121 Second Avenue had also partially collapsed, but it was unclear whether this was a direct result of the explosion or occurred later. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Thursday evening that 119 and 125 Second Avenue have also been affected, and FDNY said that the emergency call came from 125 Second Avenue at 3:17 p.m. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the area around 119 Second Avenue was vacated because of a possible collapse of that building as well, as a result of the fire that extended there following the explosion.

The FDNY does not know the cause of the incident yet but police at the scene said that it was consistent with a gas explosion. The mayor confirmed that explosion appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on in 121 Second Avenue, but the investigation is still ongoing. The mayor added that the FDNY is dealing with a seven-alarm incident and have contained fires in all four of the buildings so far. 

Second Avenue was closed from East 14th Street to Houston after the explosion. The affected buildings included a number of apartments as well as restaurants Sushi Park at 121 Second Ave. and Pommes Frites at 123 Second Ave.

Notify NYC reported that the New York City Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS) was activated in response to the fire. Anyone concerned about the welfare of someone who may have been affected by the collapse and are unable to contact them should call 311. From outside of NYC, relatives and friends can call (212) 639-9675. The American Red Cross has also opened a reception center at P.S. 63 at 121 East 3rd Street in Manhattan.

“Today our community’s heart is breaking,” Council Member Rosie Mendez said in response to the tragedy. “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy. I am working closely with emergency services, my colleagues in government and with community leaders to respond to this horrible event. I thank the people of New York for the outpouring of concern and support. We pray for the victims and their families.”

On Thursday evening, Con Ed also issued a statement, noting the building had failed an inspection.

“Con Edison is working with fire officials and other agencies at the scene of today’s explosion and building collapse on 2nd Avenue near 7th Street in the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan,” the utility said.

“Earlier today, Con Edison personnel were at the location to evaluate work the building plumber was doing inside 121 2nd Ave. in connection with a gas service upgrade. The work failed our inspection for several reasons, including insufficient spacing for the installation of the meter in the basement.

“We had no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion. A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks. We continue to work with all agencies on the investigation into the cause, and we are praying for the recovery of all the injured.”

8 thoughts on “Major explosion causes building collapse, fire on Second Ave. at East 7th

  1. It will be interesting to see what, if any, culpability there was on the part of the building owner/landlord, as well as the corrupt DOB. I suspect there was some under the table graft at play here. The landlord is probably salivating at the thought of the insurance check. DeBlasio, choose your friends carefully. We know you are in love with the REBNY and that doesn’t go in your favor with those who voted for you.

  2. On the subject of insurance and shady landlords, I just read on the TA fb page about a lady who has a bathroom sink backed-up with mud and debris and “Maintenance” won’t dispatch a plumber until it floods! I can’t believe they are that short on plumbers or handymen that they can’t send someone to snake it and I’ve heard other stories of tenants having to wait until their apartments literally flood because “Maintenance” will send somebody. This sounds to me that it is beyond incompetence and smacks of having something to do with collecting on their insurance. Of course, the poor tenant needs to have plenty of flood and damage insurance to salvage damaged property when the required flood occurs to qualify for a maintenance visit. The sleaze factor of these RE operators defies belief.

    • I don’t think a flood is as dangerous as a gas leak, though I suppose it could be if it got caught up with electrical things! The tenant on fb should take photos of her backed-up sink and post them on Yelp.

      I find it hard to believe they don’t have round-the-clock maintenance staff and plumbers considering that the whole project is now mostly a dorm. Last night I had to call Security because the losers in the dorm above me were hard-partying until the early hours. Anything could happen with all those drunken, weed-toking kids and it would behoove Management to be prepared for anything at all times, especially weekend nights when the students are getting wasted. Who the hell knows what they are “cooking” in their dorm apartments.

      The tragedy on the Second Avenue should be a salutary lesson to us all, ESPECIALLY management, that disaster can be just a spark away. We already had a serious fire (also under the TS Regime) caused by students using candles for whatever reason. This is not the safe place it used to be before it became a dorm and was taken over by such a $$$$$$$-worshiping entity.

  3. We’ve had many a gas leak in my building and it is usually caused by people putting the stove on and it hasn’t ignited or the gas got blown out. These days, Security responds very promptly, but a few years ago (under the TS regime), late one night there was a strong and overwhelming smell of gas coming from a neighbor’s apartment and Security couldn’t get into her apartment because she had a top lock. They just stood around uselessly waiting for a locksmith. As the smell got stronger (and I felt like I would pass out), I called the FDNY who promptly arrived and got the door open and the woman out. It was an older lady who had one of those old Tappan stoves and the pilot light kept blowing out.

    The FDNY took care of the problem immediately and the lady went to the hospital to be checked out, but Security and the so-called management of the time, were mad at me for calling FDNY. Too bad! Fortunately, TS isn’t around any more and I doubt those goofy Security guys are still here.

    I think Management should send out clear cut instructions as to what we should do when we smell gas. Call 911? Call Security? What? I called Security a couple of weeks ago because I could smell gas in the hallway when I was visiting a neighbor on another floor. Security arrived with some kind of detector and found that a tenant’s stove was leaking gas. Nothing bad happened, but now I’m wondering if I should have called 911. Some clarification from Management would be very much appreciated and might save lives in the future.

      • I vaguely remember it. Wasn’t that someone who tried to commit suicide by opening all the gas jets? I think I was out of town for a few months around that time and heard about it when I got back.

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