UPDATED, March 27, 12:23 p.m.: A five-story East Village building collapsed Thursday afternoon after an explosion rocked the structure and caused it to partially collapse. Two people are still unaccounted for, according to news reports.
Smoke emanated from the 8,460-square-foot property at 121 Second Avenue, near 7th Street, following a blast around 3:20 p.m., officials told the New York Daily News. The fire then spread to the neighboring building, 123 Second Avenue, which has now also collapsed, with 119 Second Avenue in danger of collapsing. At least 19 people were injured — four of whom are in critical condition, the New York Post reported. About 130 firefighters initially battled the fire, but as of 5:15 p.m. Thursday, about 250 were on the scene. Investigators suspect that a gas leak at Sushi Park on the ground floor of 121 Second Avenue sparked the explosion, according to news reports.
— J K (@Jamie_S_Kennedy) March 26, 2015
“The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 Second Avenue, ” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
More than an hour after the initial explosion, another loud bang sounded and an audible, communal gasp came from the crowd of bystanders.
Derek Tu, a 23-year-old student, waited anxiously by the do-not-cross line. Tu told The Real Deal that he was worried about his apartment, which is half a block away from the site of the explosion.
“I left my window wide open,” he said.
Stefan Rak, the owner of Big Bar at 75 East 7th Street, was supposed to get a massage at a building near the site, but had been running 30 minutes late. His grandparents live across from the collapsed building.
“I could’ve lost everybody,” Rak said. “I am lucky.”
The building at 121 Second Avenue, which is owned by Maria Hrynenko’s Mah Realty LLC, has 6,768 square feet of residential space, as well as 1,692 square feet of ground-floor retail. George Pasternak owns 123 Second Avenue, which houses Pommes Frites among other tenants. According to news reports, Sushi Park, the East Noodle ramen shop and Pommes Frites were all destroyed.
— Zachary Stieber (@ZackStieber) March 26, 2015
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