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Thread: Explosion at 121 Second Avenue, East Village

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default Explosion at 121 Second Avenue, East Village

    At Least 2 People Missing After Explosion in Lower Manhattan

    MARCH 27, 2015

    Rescue workers searched on Friday through the debris after an explosion the day before in an East Village building.
    Michael Nagle for The New York Times

    Two people remained missing on Friday as emergency workers began the delicate and complicated task of sifting through the debris of three buildings in the East Village that were destroyed the day before in an explosion and fire.

    The fire on Thursday afternoon began with an explosion at 121 Second Avenue and grew to an inferno engulfing four neighboring buildings. At a news conference on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while the investigation into the blast was in its early stages, “there is a possibility that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building.”

    Small pockets of fire continued to smolder at the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street in the afternoon, as workers dug through the rubble with two giant cranes. A police officer lead a dog around the edges of the piles.

    The sound of jackhammers, crane teeth on brick, and a police helicopter pounded the air. Water spilled from a broken pipe in a heap of debris, mattresses, picture frames, file cabinets and upholstered chairs.

    An overview on Friday of the site of the explosion in the East Village.
    Andrew Renneisen for The New York Times

    A “vibrant and bustling” street had been transformed, Mr. de Blasio said.

    “You rarely see a scene of such devastation in the middle of a city like this,” he said.

    City officials said the likelihood of finding survivors diminished with each hour.

    One young man presumed missing, Nicholas Figueroa, was on a date at a sushi restaurant on the first floor of 121, according to his family. The second missing person was identified as Moises Ismael Locón Yac, 27, a busboy at the restaurant.

    After the explosion ripped through the restaurant, Sushi Park, residents scrambled down fire escapes to safety, while others were helped down by bystanders. At a news conference on Friday morning, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said the search was complicated, similar to what investigators faced after a gas explosion in East Harlem a year ago.

    Robert K. Boyce, the department’s chief of detectives, said that the police received initial reports of about 42 people who might be missing. But, the police concluded that only Mr. Figueroa and Mr. Locón were known to have been in the building at the time of the explosion. The authorities are still looking into reports of an additional missing person.

    At least 22 people were injured, 18 with non-life threatening injuries, and four remained in critical condition, according to the authorities. Those with the most serious injuries, officials said, seemed to have been hurt during the initial blast.

    The investigation into the explosion’s cause was focusing on plumbing and gas work being done at Sushi Park.

    There was no current work permit on file for plumbing work to be done at that site, according to public records.

    On Friday afternoon, officials said that workers from the utility Con Edison visited 121 Second Avenue at 2 p.m. on Thursday, leaving at 2:45 p.m. According to city officials, the owner of the restaurant smelled gas about 15 minutes later and called the building’s owner. After another 15 minutes, as workers were going to look in the basement, an explosion blew people out of the restaurant and onto the street.

    Firefighters worked on Friday in a building damaged by the explosion in the East Village.
    Andrew Renneisen for The New York Times

    Diners had been taking advantage of half price deal of the day during Sushi Park’s lunch service. Survivors staggered in the dust and debris during the brief window after the explosion and before the fire, fueled by the gas that continued to leak from the basement, began to spread.

    At least a dozen people escaped or were helped to safety.

    Mike Shepherd, 47, a firefighter with Squad 41 based in the Bronx, was off duty, eating at a nearby restaurant. He ran to the scene.

    “As I got closer to the corner I could feel the concussion bounced off the building across the street and kind of hit me in the chest and I said, ‘Oh man, it’s a big one.’ Then I looked and I turned and I see the whole building is out in the street and people laying there, and I said, ‘Oh man, this is bad.’ ”

    He saw bodies sprawled on the ground; many of them looking cut and beat up, he said.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was a possibility that a gas line was “inappropriately accessed” before the building explosion Thursday in the East Village.

    Video by Reuters on Publish Date March 27, 2015. Photo by Nancy Borowick for The New York Times.

    They could not hear him, he said, and he waved to them with his hands. “How many missing?” he shouted. “How many at work today?”

    Six, they answered; he counted only five people.

    As firefighters converged on the scene, people on the street looked stunned.

    “It was the loudest and most intense explosion I have ever heard,” said Tony Klinger, who had seen people in the restaurant just before the blast. “I thought it might be a bomb, some kind of terrorist attack. The whole inside of the storefront, of the restaurant, was outside on the sidewalk where I had just walked.”

    Mr. Locón, described as earnest and hardworking, had been working in the main dining room of Sushi Park, one of 15 employees present. As his colleagues stumbled outside in the chaos after the explosion, they could not find him. They searched the hospitals and asked the police for help, but as of Friday afternoon had not gotten any news.

    The Sequence Of Destruction Of Three East Village Buildings

    They feared the worst.

    Mr. Figueroa, 23, had gone to Sushi Park for a lunchtime date.

    His family has not heard from him since, they said.

    His date, they said, was being treated for her injuries at Bellevue Hospital Center. She told her family that she and Mr. Figueroa were in the restaurant when it exploded.

    “I don’t know what to do,” Mr. Figueroa’s brother Tyler, 19, said on Friday outside of a makeshift Red Cross center in the East Village. “We’re just praying that they find him.”

    The family fanned out across Manhattan on Thursday afternoon to search for Nicholas. Tyler walked to a nearby hospital while his father, also named Nicholas Figueroa, and a cousin sought the help of the police. But there was no trace of him.

    At the end of a long night of searching, his weary parents returned to their home on the Upper East Side, hopeful that he might have returned while they were away.

    “My father is not stable, because he’s crying so much,” Tyler Figueroa said. “The police said that they’re looking into it, but we just want to know how this could’ve happened.”

    The only thing the family knows for sure is that Nicholas had just paid his bill for lunch.

    A bank statement, they said, shows a debit card transaction at Sushi Park for $13.04.

    Owners of Restaurants Destroyed in East Village Explosion Mourn Their Losses MARCH 27, 2015

    Extent of Losses Begins to Come Into Focus a Day After an East Village Explosion MARCH 27, 2015

    Cause of East Village Blast May Have Been Improper Use of a Gas Line MARCH 27, 2015

    Firefighter’s Account of East Village Blast: ‘Oh Man, It’s a Big One’ MARCH 27, 2015

    East Village Explosion Ignites Fire, Fells Buildings and Injures at Least 19 MARCH 26, 2015

    After East Village Blast, a Familiar Sight: New Yorkers to the Rescue MARCH 26, 2015

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    The circumstances around this tragedy really stink.

  4. #4


    Body Is Found at East Village Explosion Site, Police Say


    Police, fire and forensic teams at the site of Thursday's gas explosion on Seventh Street and Second Avenue in the East Village
    on Sunday. Credit Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

    Rescue workers have located a body in the wreckage of the explosion and fire last week in the East Village, the police said on Sunday afternoon.
    Two men have been missing since the blast on Thursday afternoon, which destroyed three buildings and injured 22 people.

    The police said investigators had not determined the identity of the body that was located.

    The two men who have been missing are Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Ismael Locón Yac, 27.

    The fire started in a first-floor restaurant, at 121 Second Avenue, on Thursday.

    Mr. Figueroa had been on a lunch date at the restaurant, Sushi Park; Mr. Yac was a busboy at the restaurant.

    Officials said the fire was likely set off by a gas explosion.

    The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. By the next morning,
    three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble.

  5. #5


    Second body found after New York explosion

    NEW YORK (AP) — New York police say a second body has been found at the site where a Manhattan building collapsed three days ago after an apparent gas explosion.

    The identification of the two dead, found amid the rubble Sunday, have not been released.

    Authorities have been looking for signs of two missing men, both believed to have been inside a ground floor sushi restaurant at the time of the explosion.

    Twenty-six-year-old Moises Lucon worked at the restaurant and 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa was a bowling alley worker who had been there on a date.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio says someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before the Thursday explosion that injured 22 people, four of them critically.

    Consolidated Edison said workers had discovered in August that a line had been illegally tapped.

  6. #6
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    East Village explosion underscores city's infrastructure woes

    It could cost up to $26 billion to replace all the city's leak-prone gas mains.

    By Joe Anuta and Emily Laermer
    March 29, 2015

    After a building exploded in the East Village, the mayor highlighted the need to look at old pipes and wires.
    Photo: Associated Press

    In the aftermath of a probable gas explosion that caused a fire and the collapse of three buildings in the East Village Thursday—a year after a deadly blast in Harlem—Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the need to take a hard look at the aging pipes and wires beneath the city streets.

    "This is a very important moment in terms of assessing our situation, in terms of our buildings and infrastructure," the mayor said at a press conference near 121 Second Ave., where an explosion kicked off a seven-alarm blaze that eventually engulfed the buildings around it.

    Repairs won't come cheap. It could cost up to $26 billion just to replace all the leak-prone gas mains in New York City, according to a report released by a nonprofit last year. And when combined with the cost of bringing the rest of the Big Apple's infrastructure up to snuff, the price tag could rise as high as $73 billion—an amount just shy of Mr. de Blasio's entire proposed budget for next year.

    Last March, the Center for an Urban Future released a report estimating that it would cost $47.3 billion to bring the city's core public infrastructure up to a state of good repair. But that number did not include gas mains, which are replaced and maintained by Consolidated Edison or National Grid, both heavily regulated private companies.

    Approximately 6,300 miles of gas mains run under the city's streets. About half of them are made from cast iron or unprotected steel, both of which have the potential to crack and leak. The center estimated that it costs between $2.2 million and $8 million per mile to replace a gas main, meaning that the tab could run between $7.2 billion and $26.4 billion.

    Con Ed and National Grid have pledged to replace more than 50 miles of leak-prone gas mains annually for the next few years, though officials may call for that number to be bumped up in the wake of both the East Village blaze last week and the deadly 2014 Harlem explosion.

  7. #7


    The Harlem explosion could likely be blamed on citywide infrastructure (although I never heard if there was a final conclusion as to the source of the gas in that explosion.) This one looks to be a building specific issue, most likely caused by the building owner and her contractors playing fast and loose with the gas line connections in the building.

  8. #8


    Approx. 6,300 miles of gas mains run under the city's streets.About half of them are made from cast iron or unprotected steel, both of which have the potential to crack and leak.

    Con Ed and National Grid have pledged to replace more than 50 miles of leak-prone gas mains annually for the next few years.
    Seems a bit complacent in view of the dangers posed?

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Wobert Wedford View Post
    Seems a bit complacent in view of the dangers posed?
    Did you miss the part where it says it might cost $26 billion just to replace the gas pipes?

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by IrishInNYC View Post
    Did you miss the part where it says it might cost $26 billion just to replace the gas pipes?
    I'm not saying it all has to be done in one go, obviously there are cost implications that have to be taken into account, but '50 miles a year for the next few years' seems somewhat 'weak', at that rate it'll take 63 years - and how many more explosions and deaths will occur? Con Ed only made around $1 billion profit so I guess they can't afford to move any quicker, they've got hungry sharks on Wall Street to feed!

  11. #11


    When you see what is involved in digging up 50 yards of a block in Manhattan I think 50 miles a year is a vast overestimation.

  12. #12


    So it's Russian Roulette then, let public safety take the back seat.

  13. #13


    Quote Originally Posted by Wobert Wedford View Post
    So it's Russian Roulette then, let public safety take the back seat.
    I think it's called life, not Russian Roulette. Things happen. Every eventuality cannot be anticipated and proactively made safe. For every gas line that fails, thousands will remain perfectly safe for decades to come. For every gas line failure that injures the public, thousands will not injure anyone. Probability; it governs most everything.

    And, to get back on topic, there is every indication that the explosion on 2nd Ave was the result of nefarious human tampering and not an infrastructure failure. Rather than coming down on ConEd about this, I imagine several people will, and should, go to prison.

  14. #14


    NY Times

    The Second Avenue Explosion Changed Tenants’ Lives in an Instant

    Laura Gibson was home in her fifth-floor apartment when a gas explosion leveled her building.CreditChristopher Gregory for The New York Times

    Late last summer, Laura Gibson, a demure singer-songwriter, moved to New York from Oregon, where she had spent most of her life, first in a small town on the southern coast and later in Portland, to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing at Hunter College. She knew that moving to New York as a student at 35 would present certain challenges, but she was fortunate in two regards — her adviser was to be the acclaimed novelist Colum McCann and her living arrangement would take the form of a well-priced room in a relatively spacious apartment in the East Village with friends of friends, a puppeteer and his wife, a poet.

    From the beginning, the city seemed to reveal its edge and grace in equal proportion. A few weeks after her arrival, in an unusual twist of indoctrination, Ms. Gibson broke her foot stepping off a curb on her way to the subway at Astor Place. Her apartment at 119 Second Avenue was a fifth-floor walk-up and she was on crutches, but her neighbors helped her. Staring out the window the day after the accident, she thought she might hobble up to the roof to take in a particularly pretty sunset. Opening the door, she inadvertently set off an alarm. She was rattled, but a woman who lived downstairs, Diane McLean, a single mother of three who worked in a city hospital in the South Bronx helping children with depression and trauma, invited her in. Ms. McLean had lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in the building since the 1970s.

    On March 26, when the explosion that set off the collapse of 119 Second Avenue and an adjacent building first reverberated, Ms. Gibson ran out of her apartment leaving everything behind — her guitar, years’ worth of lyrics and writing in notebooks, eyeglasses, contact lenses. Ms. Gibson had been writing fiction in longhand, she told me in an interview at a cafe in Chelsea, near where she was temporarily staying with friends. The work she had done on a musical she was commissioned to write in Oregon for performers with developmental disabilities was also gone. Ms. Gibson never got around to getting renter’s insurance, not that it would have mattered for much of what was lost. Ms. McLean didn’t have it either.

    “When I give talks to teenagers, which I sometimes do, I always tell them to keep notebooks and make themselves observers of the world,” Ms. Gibson said. “Even if they were lost, keeping them was better than not.”

    The decimation of the Second Avenue buildings is an almost operatic recasting of the familiar, continuing story of contemporary New York: the displacement of creative people who haven’t found outsize success, the gradual fading away of the committed and unglamorous from the landscape of Manhattan. Another neighbor of Ms. Gibson’s at 119 Second Avenue had been Mildred Guy, who works at the Neighborhood School on East Third Street. She had lived in the building for close to 50 years. There were rent-regulated tenants living in both 119 Second Avenue, which collapsed, and 125 Second Avenue, which was severely damaged by fire.

    The state, which oversees rent-regulated units in the city, allows for tenants in destroyed apartments to return and pay rates comparable to the rent they had been paying, if the landlord rebuilds. But in this instance, rebuilding is unlikely, especially if the landlord, Maria Hrynenko, is found culpable in the explosion, which appears to have been caused by a gas leak in 121 Second Avenue, where a gas line may have been tapped inappropriately. Even if that weren’t to happen, the chance that the land would be sold to a developer intent on building luxury apartments seems fairly high, given the location.

    At a legal clinic held shortly after the explosion, tenants in rent-stabilized apartments were encouraged to band together to sue the landlord, the city and Con Edison, Ms. Gibson’s roommate Matthew Brooks told me. Mr. Brooks, who is 50, had lived in the apartment at 119 Second Avenue since 1992, having moved from Brooklyn when he was 27, and was paying a rent one-third of what tenants who were living in market-rate apartments in the building were paying, he said. He and his landlord had long had a contentious relationship. But a successful end to any lawsuit or series of lawsuits would obviously take years.

    Mr. Brooks, who was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his wife when the explosion occurred, is enduring significant losses. A puppet maker who has worked for Jim Henson studios and Laika, the animation company that made the film “Coraline,” among others, he had spent months on a new project, a series on the web that involved the re-creation of an old subway station, which he built as a set in the apartment. “Usually I was doing TV shows and movies for other people, and this was my own,” Mr. Brooks told me. He spent his savings buying equipment and materials for the project, all of which were lost.

    “I’m not in my 20s,” he said, “so the idea of rebuilding everything, I just don’t know if I have it in me.”

    For the time being Mr. Brooks and his wife were back in Brooklyn living in a friend’s apartment in Bushwick. Friends and family members of some of the affected tenants have taken to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, to ask for help. Ms. Gibson was on her way to Oregon for a break. Mr. McCann had taken her around Hunter College and helped expedite the issuing of a new school identification card. Warby Parker had given her a new pair of glasses for free. “I have a packet of things now,” she said, “that add up to me being me.”


    A version of this article appears in print on April 5, 2015, on page MB1 of the New York edition with the headline: In an Instant, Homeless.

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by IrishInNYC View Post
    I think it's called life, not Russian Roulette.
    I think in this case it's called death for those poor unfortunate people.

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishInNYC
    Things happen. Every eventuality cannot be anticipated and proactively made safe. For every gas line that fails, thousands will remain perfectly safe for decades to come. For every gas line failure that injures the public, thousands will not injure anyone. Probability; it governs most everything.
    No-one is saying 'every eventuality', we are talking about a specific situation here that can reduce the chances of it happening again if it were given more priority and effort to resolve it. People before profit might be a good starting point, but I guess the Wall Street sharks would have a view on that.

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