NYC Building Explodes, Killing 2 People And Injuring At Least 10


UPDATED: Wednesday March 12, 2014 12:27 PM

An explosion has leveled two New York City apartment buildings, killing two people and injuring 17 others.
    
The New York Police Department says two females died in the East Harlem blast. No other information is available.
    
A utility company says a resident in a nearby building reported smelling gas shortly before the explosion Wednesday morning.
    
Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee says a resident from a building adjacent to the two that collapsed reported that he smelled gas inside his apartment, but thought the odor could be coming from outside.
    
He would not speculate on whether a gas leak caused the explosion.
   
Police, some wearing gas masks and medical masks, handed out medical masks to residents and onlookers because of the thick white smoke that shrouded the area.

Eoin Hayes, 26, said the explosion shook his entire apartment building in Harlem at about 9:30 a.m. He ran to the window and saw flames consuming one building and smoke rising into the air.

"I was in my bedroom and the explosion went off, it kind of shook the whole building," Hayes said. "You could feel the vibrations going through the building."

Hayes lives less than 10 blocks from where the explosion happened. He said the fire consumed one building and then moved on to another building adjacent to it, though about 40 minutes later the flames had subsided and there was mostly just smoke. Both buildings appeared to be residential.

"I ran to the window and saw the fire and the smoke going up and the sirens start," Hayes said.

The explosion occurred very close to elevated Metro-North commuter railroad tracks. Metro-North service was suspended to and from Grand Central on all three train lines while employees remove debris from the tracks.

The fire department said it sent nearly 170 members to the scene.