NEW YORK CITY – A powerful explosion that appears to be gas-related caused a 7-alarm fire in New York City’s East Village on Thursday afternoon.
The massive blast injured a dozen people, three of them critically.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was at the scene, revealed a possible cause.
“Preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion. That investigation is ongoing. The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 2nd Avenue,” De Blasio said in a report by CNN.
Following the explosion, a massive fire that spread to four buildings caused at least one of them to collapse.
More than 250 firefighters responded to the scene to douse the fire.
Right next to the building that exploded is Pommes Frites, a specialty shop serving Belgian fries.
About a dozen Filipinos work at Pommes Frites but only three of them were working the shift when the explosion tore through the five-storey building next door.
All three Filipinos are safe.
ABS-CBN News caught up with the Filipino workers who were about to go home.
Joseph Sumpay said they were thrown to the ground by the massive force of the blast.
“Habang nagtitinda ako, bigla na lang may sumabog. Medyo na shock ako. Malakas talaga, sobrang lakas, tipong yung wall namin naka-slant na siya tapos yung refigerator namin ng soda, nakatumba na siya,” Sumpay said.
Pommes Frites manager Jordan Ceasar said the incident was indescribable.
“I really don’t have words to describe it. It was really loud. The whole thing was shaking, after that when the power went off we just ran away,” he said.
Ceasar said despite the situation, he remains hopeful and thankful.
“I’m really thankful. I mean, it could have been us but we were spared from that situation. I’m really thankful we are all safe. I’ll be looking at life from a different way from now on,” he said.
The cause of the explosion is still under further investigation but officials say inspectors from New York’s gas utility were in the building an hour before the explosion and found that the gas work at the building was “unacceptable”.
“Sa ngayon, siyempre worry namin yung trabaho namin kasi nga, mawawalan kami ng trabaho ng mga ilang buwan siguro ganun dahil sa nangyari,” Sumpay said.
De Blasio also reminded the public not to speculate until after a full report is available to put the pieces together.