Mar 29, 2015 09:40 PM EDT
The New York City Fire Department responded to a fire on March 26 that has injured at least fifteen people and left four of them in critical condition. ABC News reports that the fire took place in Manhattan's East Village, and that it turned into a seven alarm fire.
Bill DeBlasio, New York City's mayor, told the press that "preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion." He went on to say that the investigation is ongoing, but that the fire appeared to have originated from "plumbing and gas work that occurred in 121 2nd Ave."
The blaze ripped into four buildings, causing at least two of them to partially collapse, and leaving at least one person still missing following the event.
Nicholas Figueroa was reportedly in the restaurant in the basement of the building that caught fire at the time of the incident. His father told reporters that he knew his son had gone there to eat, because his bank statement showed a charge from the restaurant. His father also noted that he had not heard from his son since the incident.
According to witnesses, an explosion shook the ground around 121 2nd Ave at approximately 3:17 pm. It appeared to come from the Sushi Park Restaurant, which is in the basement of the building. Had it occurred earlier in the day, during the busiest hours for the restaurant, no doubt more people would have been injured or killed in the blast.
One firefighter told reporters, "Our members arrived in less than three minutes to a scene they certainly didn't expect -- to see that this explosion blew the front of 121 across the street." He went on to explain that for several minutes firefighters made searches of the buildings connected to the blaze, until the collapse of 121 and 123 forced them out.
We reported earlier this week about a fire that ripped through a factory in Chicago's Archer Heights neighborhood. That fire also cause considerable property damage, leaving the building a total loss. The fact that a fire extinguisher company was one of the tenants of the building in Archer Heights is somewhat ironic.
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