A fiery explosion Thursday afternoon in Manhattan’s East Village injured at least 19 people, damaged four buildings and led to the collapse of at least one of them.
Neighborhood residents said the initial blast shook buildings blocks away and shattered windows. Much of an exploded storefront spilled onto Second Avenue at East Seventh Street.
Four people were in critical condition; they were among 15 taken to area hospitals, including four firefighters, who sustained minor injuries. Four people were treated at the scene.
The cause is under investigation.
Consolidated Edison inspectors were at the Second Avenue building “evaluating the meter installation for a new service … to the building,” utility President Craig Ivey told reporters. There was a second gas service in operation at the same building.
The installation of the new meter “did not pass our inspection at that time, so it meant it wasn’t ready for gas to be introduced,” Ivey said. Con Edison said in a statement that a survey Wednesday of gas mains on the block found no leaks.
Inspectors were at the building at 2 p.m. Thursday. The blast occurred at 3:17 p.m.
After the blast, injured people sat dazed and bleeding on Second Avenue, others leaning on lampposts or against buildings as pedestrians tended to their wounds. A shirtless man was propped against the front of a taco shop on the opposite side of the street as T-shirts were used to stanch the blood pouring from his neck.
A young woman with dirt and blood covering half her face walked north up Second Avenue, a group of people holding her elbows to steady her. An off-duty firefighter who was nearby also rushed to the scene, the Fire Department said, and climbed the stuck ladder to help a woman down.