Bronx, NY Natural Gas Explosion, Apr 1987
BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN BRONX DUE TO NATURAL GAS EXPLOSION
By Catherine Crocker
Associated Press Writer
New York, (AP) -- Rescue workers early today pulled a sixth body from the rubble of a small grocery and a tenement that disintegrated in an apparent natural gas explosion, raining bricks and plaster on nearly two dozen people.
Police and firefighters dug through the wreckage by hand to rescue several people including a 2 1/2 year old boy, during the hectic moments after the blast in the South Bronx on Wednesday afternoon. One man was trapped, conscious and in great pain, under a steel beam for six hours until he could be saved.
Seventeen people were injured in the blast, and 12 rescue workers were injured during the search for survivors, authorities said. At least three of the injured were undergoing surgury today.
Heavy machinery continued picking through the rubble of the one-story grocery store and vacant three-story apartment building today, but authorities said they believed they had found the last victim with the sixth body pulled out shortly after midnight.
A gas leak in the store was reported about 15 minutes before the blast, and Fire Commissioner Joseph Spinnato said natural gas probably caused the explosion.
The utility Consolidated Edison said it would investigate.
UHURUH ROPER, 14, said he stepped out of the store just before it collapsed.
"All that happened was a big boom. Just a boom," he said. "I tried to move, but the contact just crushed me up against a car. Then some rocks and pebbles started falling on me, and I couldn't get out. I was kicking for a little while, but then I just kind of passed out."
ROPER was in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Lincoln Hospital this morning suffering from multiple injuries, a spokesman said.
"I saw some kids going into the store and the next thing you know it just blew up. It just collapsed," said NICOLE JOSEPH, 18, who was walking by the store. "I couldn't even believe it because one minute the store was there and the next minute it was gone."
Five of the dead apparently were inside the store when it collapsed and the sixth was outside, authorities said.
LUIS LUGO, 17, said he also had left the store and crossed the street when he heard a boom and turned to see "a rush of flames and smoke. The top of the store came up, it lifted off, and then it fell back down."
At least two people suffered burns from the flames, authorities said, but there was no fire to be extinguished.
Police Officer Timothy Burke was one of the first on the scene.
"Immediately you picked a spot and started to dig," he said. "There wasn't a sound, you just started digging."
Officer Richard Gonzalez said he and his partner were on their hands and knees pulling wood and brick away from a man and woman pinned against a parked car.
"It was crazy, we were trying to get them out and other people were coming and crying and screaming for us to go to another spot and help someone else," he said.
The Progress Clearfield Pennsylvania 1987-04-09