Harlem Gas Explosion Kills 7, Destroys Building

New York Fire Department rescuers have discovered a seventh death following the explosion of a 15 unit apartment building in East Harlem on Wednesday, which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak.  

The explosion occurred yesterday morning around 9:30 a.m., injuring more than 60 people, with seven confirmed dead and dozens more missing.

The cause of the blast is believed to have been a gas leak, according to New York City officials.

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Fire officials announced today that residents of the building had reported smelling natural gas roughly 15 minutes before the explosion occurred. The first known report of natural gas smell in the building was called in to Consolidated Edison Inc. at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday morning, and a crew was dispatched a crew to investigate the problems, according to a press release. They did not arrive before the blast caused the building to partially collapse.

Con Ed officials indicate that the building and its neighboring structures are serviced by an 8 inch, low pressure gas main. officials told media outlets yesterday that it is not conclusive that a gas leak is the actual cause of the explosion and it is also unclear if there are any remaining gas leaks on the premises. However, the company has shut down all electric and gas service between East 116th and East 117th Streets on the west side of Park Avenue as a precaution, while investigators try to determine the exact cause of the blast.

Reports from New York City’s building department have also indicated the apartment gas lines were serviced and approved for a plumber to install 120 feet of pipe at the buildings address to supply a gas line to a stove on the fifth floor apartment.

The blast was so severe that building windows were blown out as far as ten blocks away and cars parked on the street were wrecked from debris projected into the street. The Metro-North service into and out of Grand Central Terminal was suspended because of debris that was blown onto the elevated train tracks.

Photo Courtesy of Adnan Islam / C.C. by 2.0

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