An explosion rocked a heavily traveled section of Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday, injuring at least a dozen people and leveling parts of a building, authorities said.
At least three of the injured in the seven-alarm fire were critical, a fire department spokesman said.
Some people may be trapped in the blaze, a law enforcement source said.
The first two floors of a red-brick building at the scene appear to have crumbled, images from the scene showed.
The cause of the blast was unknown.
It comes just over a year after two buildings in Harlem collapsed after a gas leak last March, killing eight people and injuring dozens. The buildings were served by a 127-year-old gas main.
The collapsed first floor appeared to house a Japanese restaurant; the building next door, with a shop specializing in French fries on the street level, was ablaze.
Towering flames and plumes of black smoke were rising from the building, which includes both apartments and businesses. Emergency personnel could be seen taking the injured away on stretchers.
At least 200 firefighters were on the scene.
The official FDNY Twitter account described it as a “major building collapse.”
After the 2014 Harlem explosion, experts warned that many U.S. utilities were struggling to maintain or replace antiquated, hard-to-reach and leaky gas mains in older urban areas, according to experts. The most vulnerable mains are made of cast iron or steel.
A day before the explosion, the New York-based Center for an Urban Future said in a report that New York’s aging infrastructure “could wreak havoc on the city’s economy and quality of life.” An estimated $47.3 billion would have to be devoted for repairs to maintain safety.
The average age of New York City’s 6,300 miles of gas mains are 56 years old, wrote the report’s author, Adam Forman.