U.S. News


Gas Leak Blamed In Deadly Harlem Building Explosion

Two 5-story buildings partially collapsed Wednesday, killing 2 and injuring 18 others.
Posted at 2:01 PM, Mar 12, 2014

Officials say a gas leak is to blame for the building explosion and raging fire in Harlem that's killed at least two people and injured 18 others.

BILL DE BLASIO: "This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people." (Via CNN

That was New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. The two 5-story buildings partially collapsed shortly after 9:30 this morning. Witnesses described complete chaos. (Via Fox News

“We heard a big loud boom! I went out and you could hear the doors fly open.” (Via WNBC


"Boom. It was like heavy thunder." (Via NY1

This is what the buildings looked like before the explosion. Now, the piano repair shop and Spanish Christian Church have been reduced to rubble. (Via Google Maps, WCBS)

Nearly 200 firefighters are working to put out the blaze. Officials are blaming it all on a gas leak. (Via WABC

The explosion happened just minutes before crew members from electric utility Con Edison arrived on the scene, responding to reports of a gas odor in the buildings. (Via Twitter / @ConEdison)

One of the building's residents told The New York Times she'd smelled gas the night before and didn't report it because the odor had disappeared. 

Mayor de Blasio said in his press conference utility crews are in the process of shutting down all the gas lines to the building. He also said there a number of people still unaccounted for.