12 Injured After Apparent Gas Explosion, Collapse At East Village Building

Emergency responders are on the scene of an explosion and collapse at a building in the East Village.

The explosion and collapse were reported at around 3:20 p.m. at 7th Street and Second Avenue Thursday afternoon.

Twelve people were injured, the Fire Department said. Three people were in critical condition. Two of them were rushed to Bellevue Hospital.

The collapse occurred in a mixed residential and commercial building.

Fire could be seen tearing through at least two buildings at the location. Video from the scene showed a huge column of flame shooting up 20 or more feet through the top of the building during the height of the fire.

PHOTOS: Second Avenue Building Explosion

The fire quickly escalated to seven alarms, according to the FDNY. Tower ladders could be seen pouring water on the building.

The NYPD says initial indications suggest the cause was a gas explosion.

A sushi restaurant is located on the ground floor of one of the affected buildings. The other houses a Belgian cafe and deli on its ground floor.

Con Edison said it was shutting down gas to the area.

A witness told CBS2’s Matt Kozar there was an odor of gas in the area after the explosion.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton are on their way to the scene.

The explosion and collapse forced numerous street closures in the area. Second Avenue was closed from 14th Street to Houston Street. Crosstown traffic on 14th Street and Houston Street was closed from First to Third Avenues. There was no northbound traffic on Third Avenue from 14th Street to Houston Street. Click here to check current traffic conditions.

Buses were being rerouted in the area. Subways were not affected.

“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.

A witness, Tom Haynes, said he lives directly across Second Avenue in a building that faces 7th Street. He said he heard an explosion that was “much louder than you’d expect from a loud firework.”

Haynes said he looked out the window and saw people “looking horrified, frankly.”

He said he ran downstairs and turned the corner, and saw that the first- and second-floor façade of a sushi bar on the ground floor of one of the buildings had been blown out. He also saw flames and rising smoke.

Haynes said he went to the top of the building and saw the flames break through the roof as the smoke turned black. Soon afterward, police evacuated all the nearby buildings, police said.

Haynes said one of the storefronts in the buildings that exploded housed a noodle shop that had gone out of business some time ago, and another housed the sushi bar. He said he believed the explosion originated in the area of the sushi bar.

“That was definitely what was first hit,” he said.

A building explosion in Harlem in March 2014 was caused by a faulty gas line.

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DeeDee Barker

Writer at The Pluto Daily
Writer/Design/Editor. Born in New Orleans but raised in Philly. DeeDee has been with the Pluto Daily since June 2014.