Mayor and officials give update on 2nd Ave. disaster

An explosion rocked 121 Second Ave. on Thursday afternoon, sparking a raging fire. In the end, 12 people were left injured and one-and-a-half buildings had collapsed. Photo via Twitter / @liberation nyc
An explosion rocked 121 Second Ave. on Thursday afternoon, sparking a raging fire that spread to neighboring buildings. In the end, 12 people were left injured and one building had totally collapsed, while another partially collapsed. Photo via Twitter / @liberation nyc

BY TEQUILA MINSKY AND LINCOLN ANDERSON | At a press conference near the scene of Thursday afternoon’s calamity on E. Seventh St., Mayor Bill de Blasio and officials provided more details about the disaster.

De Blasio was joined by Fire Department and Con Ed officials, who also gave remarks.

They said that a total of four buildings were involved and that, from a preliminary investigation, it appears it all started with a gas-related explosion. Ultimately, it turned into a seven-alarm fire, and 250 firefighters were on scene battling it.

The problem all started at 121 Second Ave., the second building along the avenue from the northwest corner.

There had been plumbing done at the building, they said. Also, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Con Ed had visited the building to “assess the possibility of putting in new metering.” However, the building “did not pass inspection.”

The explosion was in 121 Second Ave., causing a partial collapse, gutting its lower two floors. The building’s storefront was blown into the street.

A fire then ignited and soon became a raging inferno. The flames spread to the next-door building to the north, 123 Second Ave., completely consuming it, and the building ultimately collapsed completely.

The conflagration also spread to a slightly taller building one address farther to the north, 125 Second Ave., and also to the corner building to the south of the explosion site, 119 Second Ave.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 119 Second Ave. was also now at risk of going.

“That building is in danger of possible collapse, which is why we have that area cleared,” he said. “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. The fire was contained to those four buildings.”

Reports said that 12 people suffered injuries. At the press conference, the mayor and officials mentioned three people — possibly workers — two of whom had suffered windpipe burns and one who later became unconscious and is in critical condition.

The mayor repeatedly stressed that if people smell gas in a building, they should immediately call 911 and report it. (Gas smells like rotten eggs.)

A number of other elected officials were on the scene, including Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Public Advocate Letitia James.

“Today our community’s heart is breaking,” Mendez said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy. I am working closely with emergency services, my colleagues in government and with community leaders to respond to this horrible event. I thank the people of New York for the outpouring of concern and support. We pray for the victims and their families.”

Residents displaced by the disaster, for the moment, were receiving support at a center set up at P.S. 63,