Hundreds of firefighters rushed to 121 Second Avenue in Lower Manhattan after an explosion rocked the East Village neighborhood. The explosion on Thursday, March 26, caused the collapse of the buildings at 121 and 123 Second Ave., and the raging inferno spread to neighboring buildings. As residents desperately tried to flee, others in the close-knit neighborhood pitched in to aid escape efforts.
Some residents leaped from fire escapes while others poured out of a sushi restaurant on the first floor. One woman became trapped on a second floor fire escape, too fearful to jump down. A heroic passerby climbed up to help her down to the sidewalk.
It will undoubtedly take a long time for the residents and business owners to recover from this tragedy. Nearly two dozen people were injured, two are presumed dead, and an untold number are now homeless. When it’s time to begin getting their lives back on track, victims of the East Village explosion may choose to consult NYC personal injury lawyers about their rights to legal recourse.
Potential causes under investigation
In the wake of the destruction, investigators are sifting through the massive piles of rubble and other evidence to try to determine the cause or causes of the explosion. According to a Con Edison spokesman, the buildings had been under renovation since last August. The renovations included new gas service pipes. More recent renovations were underway to install a gas service line that would serve the whole building. At the time of the explosion, the sushi restaurant was the only entity authorized to receive gas service.
On August 6, a meter reader at the sushi restaurant reported the odor of gas. Subsequently, multiple leaks were discovered in a gas line that had apparently been tapped by unauthorized parties. Since that time, the gas service issues in the building apparently hadn’t been resolved. Con Edison inspectors visited 121 Second Ave. just an hour before the explosion. Their assessment was that the renovations for the upgraded gas service didn’t pass inspection. They locked the line before leaving. However, just 15 minutes later, the owner of the sushi restaurant smelled gas and notified the landlord, rather than calling 911 immediately.
The building owner’s son and the building contractor, Dilber Kukic, went into the basement to investigate. Upon opening a door, an explosion occurred. It has been noted that Kukic pled “not guilty” not long ago to charges of bribing a housing inspector at an unrelated construction project. According to Gothamist, Kukic did not have the right permits for work on the gas line.
At a recent press conference, NYC Mayor de Blasio suggested that investigators were considering the possibility that “the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building,” similar to the safety violation that was discovered last August. It appears that multiple factors may have contributed to the explosion itself, and the delay in notifying emergency dispatchers and Con Edison.
Should victims of the explosion decide to retain legal counsel regarding injuries and property damage, it is possible that multiple defendants may be named if lawsuits are filed.
How personal injury lawyers can help NYC residents
Your home should be a sanctuary, yet the negligence of others can cause serious harm or death even within these confines. In the wake of such a tragedy, it’s vital that residents protect their legal rights by enlisting the aid of a skilled advocate who can determine eligibility for filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit in New York City.
The law firm of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye has successfully represented the rights of New Yorkers since 1952 and offers free legal consultations without obligation. To schedule a case review, please call 1-800-469-7429 for more information.