In these days of camera phones and electronic tablets, just about anyone can capture video and photos of breaking news, and that was the case with Wednesday's East Harlem explosion and collapse. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Dramatic rescues were caught on video Wednesday by people who live and work near the 116th Street explosion.
"I got my iPad, and I was able to get a couple of scenes of what was going on," said one person. "There was a lady being carried out on a stretcher. She didn't look like she was doing too well. There was another lady sitting inside an ambulance."
Michael Lewis recorded cellphone video that shows bricks piled on cars along Park Avenue from the collapsed buildings. He joined a group of good Samaritans to help police officers pull people away from danger, putting their own lives on the line as flames erupted.
"I proceeded to start helping people get out of the van, but then, the fire got too intense, and the police told me to get back," Lewis said.
"A big van that was squashed, we had to take all the rocks out and pull them out the window," said another man.
That victim was carried away from danger, like so many others, who were seen on cellphone video being rescued by first responders and everyday New Yorkers.
"The ground started shaking and everything, so I got nervous myself, so I started moving back, and then, you hear the explosion," said one person.
"The smoke was coming from the building over there," said another. "It was just scary."
For many people, seeing all of the debris in the street and on the cars reminded them of the September 11th attacks. One woman said that she took a look, then ran away because she didn't want to see any victims being pulled out. Others said that their initial response was to jump into action.
"I'm a New Yorker. You got to help the people," Lewis said. "I just want to make sure the people was OK. That's all."
In reality, though, that's a lot.