An explosion in Harlem has killed 2 people and injured many others. The New York City Fire Department has confirmed that the explosion was caused by a gas leak. Several witnesses reported seeing the buildings rise up before the explosions, which fire officials say is a sign of a high volume of gas. Several other witnesses and nearby residents reported smelling gas before the explosion.
Con Edison also confirmed that several people called to report the smell of gas and a possible gas leak about 18 minutes before the explosion. Con Edison emergency workers were responding to the calls but did not make it in time.
The explosion caused two buildings located at 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, between 116th and 117th streets, to collapse. At least 18 people have been found injured and more are expected to be found as rescue workers look through the rubble.
Fire department officials are still trying to determine exactly where the gas leak came from but they believe it may have been on one of the lower floors.
"The way the building imploded after the explosion, it must have happened on the bottom floor," Carmen Vargas-Rosa, an employee at the Spanish Christian Church located in one of the buildings said. "The only thing I can see doing that much damage is a gas explosion."
Over 250 firefighters responded to the scene and worked to put out the five-alarm blaze. First responders will have to clear the scene in what is expected to be a "long-extended operation."
Metro-North trains have been suspended in and out of Grand Central Terminal due to debris from the explosion blocking the tracks. The scene of the explosion has been described as chaotic with people rushing in and out of the area and people looking for loved ones who lived in the buildings. Many people were shaken up and looking for answers.
"We could feel the boom. We ran outside and we could see that the buildings had fallen. There was a lot of fire. People were scared," said a neighbor.
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