By Malena Carollo and Jaclyn Peiser
Updated 2 p.m. on Friday, March 27
UPDATE, 5:50 p.m.: De Blasio- Second building is “in danger of possible collapse.”
UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.: Mayor Bill de Blasio says explosion was gas-related
A suspected gas explosion caused three buildings to collapse, which injured 25 people, four critically, in the East Village Thursday afternoon. Four of the injured were FDNY fire fighters. Two people are presumed missing. There have been no reports of fatalities.
Fire fighters responded just after 3 p.m. to an explosion at 121 2nd Ave. and do not yet have the fire under control. The fire spread to 123 and 119, and they too collapsed. Con Edison temporarily shutting off gas in the area.
Over 250 FDNY members and about 50 units responded to the seven-alarm fire, according to the spokesperson.
Jessica Hintermeiser, 30, was leaving a meeting when she felt the blast.
“The flames were just huge,” she said. Hintermeiser said the explosion shook the storefronts on 10th Street before ash started to rain down.
“I couldn’t help but have a flashback to [Sept. 11],” she said. Hintermeiser, an art adviser, lived in the city during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Jeffrey Chan, 21, was in his apartment getting ready for class when the building collapsed across the street.
“I looked out and everyone was running,” he said.
Chan evacuated the area around 4 p.m. and has not been allowed to reenter since.
Kate Walter, who has lived in New York for 40 years, was eating lunch at Veselka when she heard what she thought were two explosions.
“I got scared– there were big flames in the air,” she said. “It’s the worst fire I’ve ever seen since I’ve lived here.”
This fire occurred almost a year after a gas explosion in East Harlem killed eight people.