Neighbors reported smelling gas moments before huge blasts leveled two rent-controlled buildings in East Harlem, NY this morning.
168 firefighters are on the scene where two 5-story residential buildings collapsed after gas explosions between 116th and 117th Streets and Park Avenue in Harlem. The fires are still smoldering as numerous ambulances standby to transport the injured. Police report 63 injuries and at least 3 dead following the massive blasts.
The NYPD say there is no evidence of terrorism.
Two crews for Con Edison gas company are on the corner of 117 and Park attempting to shut off the gas. A Con Ed spokesman confirmed reports of a gas leak but the Con Ed crews did not arrive in time to shut the gas off.
Andrew Padilla, an independent journalist who lives nearby blamed the fires on gentrification of the neighborhood.
“Gentrification is really affecting this neighborhood in a big way, Padilla said. “When gentrification occurs, you have landlords who would really prefer to not make the repairs.”
He added: “These are hundred year old buildings, and when you don’t take care of them things like this will happen.” It’s unfortunate that it takes an explosion like this for CNN and every single other entity media under the sun to finally come to this neighborhood and care.” Padilla was rudely cut off by CNN reporter Poppy Harlow, who said “We don’t want to make any assumptions here.”