As of Friday morning, about “200 firefighters and medical staff” are at the scene of the East Village blast that took out 3 buildings and ignited a seven-alarm fire on Thursday afternoon, CBS reports. A fourth building was badly damaged by the fire. Latest estimates say that at least 25 people were injured — 4 critically — and that 2 people are still unaccounted for.
— FDNY (@FDNY) March 27, 2015
As crews continue to work, the city has warned local residents about smoke inhalation. The Red Cross has set up a station for those affected at PS 63, at 121 East 23rd Street. So far, about 80 people have gone there to receive aid.
The blast occurred at 3:17 PM on Thursday at 121 Second Avenue. At a press conference on Thursday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that it appeared “to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside” the building. No gas leak had been reported, but according to NY1, several people mentioned on social media that they smelled gas just before the explosion.
Though the FDNY was quick to respond to the scene — within 3 minutes of it being reported, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro — the New York Times reports that several good samaritans risked their lives to help in the initial moments of the explosion. One off-duty firefighter also assisted in immediate rescue efforts.
Within hours, a fire ripped through 119, 121, and 123 and 125 Second Avenue. It completely collapsed the first three buildings, while the FDNY continued to put out patches of fire at 125 Second Avenue on Friday morning.
According to NBC, one of the missing persons has been identified as 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa; he was on a date at Sushi Park when the blast occurred.
(Image: Before via Google Maps, After via Bowery Boogie)