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Many questions remain about cause of East Village apartment blast and fire

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Last month, three apartment buildings in New York City’s East Village were destroyed by an explosion and fire. As firefighters fought to put out the raging inferno, those individuals in and around the buildings scrabbled to flee to safety.

Searching amongst the still smoldering rubble, firefighters and rescue workers eventually discovered the bodies of two young men, ages 27 and 23, who were killed in the blast and fire. More than 20 other individuals suffered injuries and at least four were initially listed as local hospitals as being in critical condition.

As efforts were made to investigate what factors may have caused or contributed to the blast, reports surfaced of possible tampering of one of the building’s main gas lines. In August of 2014, officials from Con Edison received a report that a gas line which fed a restaurant on the ground floor in one of the buildings had apparently been tapped to siphon gas into both the apartments on upper floors and the adjacent building.

In the hours before the fatal blast occurred, the restaurant’s manager dialed the building’s landlord to once again report the smell of gas. Shortly thereafter, as the landlord reported to the building to investigate, the gas line exploded.

In cases where it’s determined that the actions of a New York City building owner or landlord directly caused or contributed to the injury or death of tenants or other members of the public, legal action should be pursued. New York City residents who have suffered injuries related to apartment building fires, elevator accidents, broken stairs, lead paint and other dangerous and hazardous conditions would be wise to contact an attorney.

Source: New York Magazine, “Two Bodies Found in Rubble of Collapsed East Village Buildings [Updated],” Margaret Hartmann, March 29, 2015

Crain’s New York Business, “Injury toll in building collapse rises to 22, as mayor suggests possible ‘impropriety’,” AP, March 27, 2015

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.