Mayor Bill de Blasio Speaks at Site of East Village Explosion [Updated]

'Our thoughts and our prayers are with everyone one of them and their families. Of course we are praying that no other individuals are found and there are no fatalities'

Mayor de Blasio is flanked by fire and police officials at a press conference on 6th Street just east of 2nd Avenue. (Photo: Jillian Jorgensen/New York Observer)

Twelve people have been injured, three of them critically, after an explosion and ensuing building collapses and seven-alarm blaze today in the East Village, where another building remains in danger of falling.

“Preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion. That investigation is ongoing. The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 2nd Avenue,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters just a few blocks from the scene, the smell of smoke heavy in the air.

Con Edison had been at the address earlier in the day, and were inspecting the construction work, done by a private contractor—and deemed it not ready for new gas service and meters, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said.

The explosion blew the face of 121 2nd Avenue across the street, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, causing a partial collapse of that building. A fire then raged at 123 2nd Avenue, which also collapsed, and that fire spread to 119 2nd Avenue.

“Right now, we are fighting a fire in 119, which was fully involved in fire that extended after the explosion. And that building is in danger of possible collapse, which is why we have that area cleared. We will be here for a very long night, and we will keep the area secure and keep our members and the public, of course, out of that possible collapse zone,” Mr. Nigro said this afternoon.

Of the three serious injuries, two people had burns to their airways, Mr. Nigro said, and another had lost consciousness.

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with every one of them and their families. And of course, we are praying that no other individuals are found injured, and that there are no fatalities, but that is an ongoing effort that FDNY and all other first responders are involved in,” Mr. de Blasio said.

As of right now, no one remains unaccounted for, Mr. de Blasio said—but he urged anyone who believed they may have known someone inside the building to call 311.

This is the second gas explosion since Mr. de Blasio took office, coming just about a year after the East Harlem gas explosion that killed eight people.

“This is—look, this is a very important moment in terms of assessing our situation, in terms of our buildings and infrastructure,” Mr. de Blasio told the Observer at the press conference. “But let me say, until we know what happened here, we cannot pass judgment. We need to fully investigate. We especially need to know if there was any indication of a gas leak, and if the individuals who sensed the leak did what they were supposed to do, and called 9-1-1 or Con Ed.”

But Mr. de Blasio did emphasize a point he made repeatedly after the East Harlem explosion.

“Any time you smell gas, you need to call 9-1-1 immediately, or call Con Ed immediately. There’s no reason to debate, there’s no reason to delay – that call needs to go in immediately,” Mr. de Blasio said.

[Find the original post with live updates below.]

The view looking north from 2nd Ave and 4th St. (Photo: Jill Jorgenson/New York Observer)

The view looking north from 2nd Ave and 4th St. (Photo: Jillian Jorgensen/New York Observer)

Mayor Bill de Blasio is, at this moment, beginning to speak at a press conference about the fire in the East Village this evening. We will be updating his comments live below.

According to Mayor de Blasio so far during the press conference:

  • Con Ed was at the building around 2 p.m. evaluating meter service. The meter service did not pass Con Ed inspection indicating it was not ready for gas hook up.
  • The explosion was caused by gas and plumbing work inside the building at 121 2nd Avenue by private companies.
  • At least 12 people are injured, with three in critical condition.
  • The following addresses were affected by the fire: 119, 121, 123 and 125 2nd Avenue.
  • “Our thoughts and our prayers are with everyone one of them and their families. Of course we are praying that no other individuals are found and there are no fatalities”

According to FDNY Commissioner Nigro:

  • “Our members arrived in less than three minutes to a scene they certainly didn’t expect to see.”
  • Firefighters before collapse made “extremely dangerous searches of these buildings to search for victims.”
  • 250 firefighters were called to the scene.

Here’s what we know so far about the explosion, fire and building collapse from earlier today from our reporters on the ground and other news sources:

  • After an exploding noise shook the St. Mark’s Place neighborhood, a fire broke out at 125 Second Avenue near the corner of 7th Street.
  • The initial fire was caused by a possible gas explosion. The Post reports that workers accidentally may have “hit a gas main”
  • 123 collapsed in its entirety 121 partially collapsed, you can still see the facade.
  • Over 130 police officers have been called to the sevel-alarm fire. All are currently safe and accounted for.

Mr. de Blasio told the Observer at the conference that any New Yorker who smells gas should immediately call 911 or Con Edison.

Mayor Bill de Blasio Speaks at Site of East Village Explosion [Updated]