Friday, December 26, 2014

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The Call Blog: Death Toll Climbs, Investigation Continues At East Harlem Explosion Site

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Once again we had every line ringing, most of them East Harlem residents with stories to share. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.

Four more bodies were recovered overnight at the site of yesterday's gas leak explosion in East Harlem. As of this writing, the death toll from the tragedy is seven. Search and rescue crews continue to remove debris from the scene in hopes of finding survivors.

Investigators also remain on the scene trying to determine the cause of the blast. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said surveillance cameras captured images "at the time of the explosion." And Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said his team is trying to reach the basement to examine heating units and meters that might hold clues.

Meanwhile, Con Edison is defending its response to the gas leak. CEO John McAvoy said the utility responds to calls of gas leaks in an average of 22 minutes. If multiple calls are received, Con Edison alerts the Fire Department for an expedited emergency response. That was not the case yesterday, as only one call was received.

What questions do you want answered during this investigation? Have you had any experiences calling Con Edison, 311, or 911 for the smell of gas? Do you share the concern by some East Harlem residents that New York City's aging infrastructure contributed to this tragedy?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

Now that this tragedy has taken place, people are pointing fingers and saying that Con Edison should have been more responsive, and that the gas infrastructure is old and outdated. But the truth is that this type of explosion is what you can expect with natural gas. We have been seeing an increasing number of gas pipe explosions all over the country. This gas main was only said to be 6 inches in diameter, but what if there was an explosion with the new 30" pipelines that are being installed in NYC, the Spectra Pipeline and the Rockaway Pipeline? Natural gas is just too dangerous. We shouldn't be using it at all, especially when renewables like solar and wind power are here and ready to do the job. It is only the lack of political will, and influence from the fossil fuel companies, that has prevented us from making the switch to renewables. Even if there were not the danger of explosions, we should not be using shale ("natural") gas, because the methane it contains is a greenhouse gas much worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. We can't afford to destroy our climate any further. We should abandon natural gas, and switch to renewables immediately.


In the interviews of the people from the neighborhood some said that they did make calls
about the odor and also there was a reporter I believe it was on channel 4 [not sure] but
local and she showed a copy of all the violations that the owners had against the buildings
and when someone asked questions about it the answer was that they did pay the fine.
What does that mean? I believe it was the building that had the church in it.
This DeBlasio and this speaker are knee deep into working with
the real estate people and they are renovating many houses there to make high risers.
One neighbor said o we have buildings collapse in this neighborhood all the time.
Plus Con Ed has a backlog of calls that run in the thousands that have not yet been
I’m just making statements that I did hear and I know what I heard. The only one I’m
sure about is the channel that produced on the air all the violations against one of
these buildings that blew up.

Where is Schumer and all the other politicians and why have they not done anything
about all the increases to our con ed bills?
I think it’s an insult to tell openly on TV that no one will get in trouble if they come
out and ask for help due to this disaster because they are of Hispanic decent and are
not registered. All well and good I believe in helping but
the rest of us have to pay taxes and this administration seems to hold on to our
monies as though they are using our ATM Card at will.
We are being spoken to as though their word is already law and why are they all so
mad looking at everyone.

This is a SHAM !!!!!!!

Morris Park

I think the air should be tested in the schools around the blast site because i was watching NY1 and the students said they were feeling sick that's no good because they get sick faster then adults do. The air should be tested from east 96 street to 125 st because it was a huge exploision. The infrastructure need major repairs maybe it did contribute to the explosion or maybe a contractor was doing work and he busted a gas line we don't know until the NTSB file a report on their findings. We should all pray for the families in El Barrio god bless

Upper West Side



Who owns the property? Were their any outstanding violations?

Park Hill

Me,my grandma,and my sister use to got to this Spanish cristian church and I am terrified and emotional about all me memories being gone.


If you smell gas you should call the gas company, con ed or 911. Leaking gas is a matter of life and death. I would never leave a matter of life or death to 311. As the fire commissioner said it's better to be on the safe side. No one should ever not report the smell of gas.


I am sorry for the families that suffered.

Couldn't The person that took the call at Gas Company or Con Ed advise the individual that called to turn off the gas in front of the building?

I pray that the rescue workers don't suffer like the ones that helped and died years after 9/11.
Hope their all given the right mask for their protection too.
We don't need more deaths.


I have two quick comments to offer.

1) If or when a person calls Con Ed to report an odor of gas in the air, does Con Ed issue a Confirmation Number to their complaints or reports? If so, people could use the confirmation number as prove that they did call. And if Con Ed does not issue a Confirmation Number, they should do so.

2) If there is a gas leak in the air that endangers the safety and welfare to people, I think that people should first call 911. I would like to see what Con Ed says when they say there were no records of gas complaints, but 311 reports the opposite to verify that there were complaints.


I am most interested in learning what happened to the calls complaining about a smell of gas that were presumably made but went...well, where? I hope the investigators can determine whether such calls were made, to what number or whom (311? 911? Fire? Police?), and what actually happened.

Upper West Side

Greetings ny 1. Thx for staying on top if the Harlem story. One major concern is air quality and lack of protection for emergency officials. Especially after 911 and all of the serious illness related to the toxins at ground zero, it would make sense that they have masks for such an emergency as this.

Chris C.

8 dead, so far, many missing. This will be a worst accident than the San Bruno explosion.

Now that a gas explosion has happened in NYC, we have to wonder, again, why we would, in 2014, be building MORE dangerous gas pipelines in this densely populated city? This explosion was caused by an 8" low-pressure pipe, what would happen if one of the new pipelines, like the 30" high-pressure Spectra pipeline in the West Village exploded? We need to stop building new gas pipelines and shut down the use of gas in NYC.

Please see the below map and links for info on currently leaking pipes. Leaks in gas pipes lead to explosions the way leaks in water pipes lead to floods.

Con Ed and others will frame this accident as a need to "modernize" infrastructure. To truly modernize would be to eliminate last century's fuels and phase out all gas usage, replacing it with electricity generated by renewable sources. We need s policy that would call for NO NEW fossil fuel infrastructure and to replace existing infrastructure at the end of it's usable life. One could argue that once pipelines are weakened to the point of exploding they are at the end of their usable life.


Paper masks are useless. Respirators should be given out.

Midtown East

Seems to me that Con Ed is being let off the hook here too easily.

If, in fact, the explosion was due to faulty pipes, perhaps ConEd, in a true spirit of community, should offer to pay to rehouse all of the people that lost their homes and businesses.

Wouldn't that be a wonderful example of how the utility truly cares for the people it supposedly serves?

Just a thought.


If Con Ed could not detect a gas leak with all of its modern equipment, do you think it's a good idea for homeowners to be responsible for pipes from the outside of their homes to the street?

I live at 123st between park & Lexington my so was in the livingroom & I was in my bed the explosion was so loud & strong it shook my hole building my bed started shaking I thought it was a earth quake & I look out the window ppl holding the building walls I never went though sumthimg lk this. Sumthimg has to b done dis is lk the 2nd or 3rd explosion. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP