East Village Building Failed A Gas Inspection Before It Exploded And Collapsed

According to Con Edison, the company that manages gas and utility in New York, an East Village building failed a gas inspection roughly an hour before it exploded and collapsed Thursday afternoon. At least 19 people were injured in the incident, fire officials said. More than 250 firefighters responded to the seven-alarm fire. The explosion happened at approximately 3:15 p.m., but Con Edison personnel were on site at around 2 p.m. to examine the construction of a new, larger gas line that was being installed at 121 2nd Ave., Con Edison president Craig Ivey said in a press conference Thursday evening.

The new installation was intended to replace a single gas meter for multiple gas meters, but Con Ed authorities determined the line wasn't ready for gas service because there was insufficient space in the basement. The building already had its own separate existing gas line.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was also at the news conference, confirmed that the work was done by private contractors for a private business. There were no reports of Con Edison or officials reporting the smell of natural gas before the explosion.

But the initial preliminary information is Con Ed inspectors arrived at the site earlier for a separate reason entirely, found the work to be unacceptable, gave instructions as to what changes were needed — and that was an hour or more before the explosion.

De Blasio said that early reports indicate that the explosion might have been combination of gas and plumbing. Law enforcement sources told NBC's affiliate in New York that construction workers accidentally hit a gas line inside a sushi restaurant in the 121 building. The explosion caused buildings at 119, 121, and 123 to collapse. The 125 building was still burning as of Thursday evening.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Con Edison said it received no reports of gas odors or gas leaks before the East Village building's fire and explosion.

We had no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion. A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks. We continue to work with all agencies on the investigation into the cause, and we are praying for the recovery of all the injured.

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