NYC apartment building collapse caught on video as people flee for safety; Investigation underway

What to Know

    • Part of a seven-story residential building in the Bronx collapsed Monday afternoon, leaving apartments exposed and walls sheared off as firefighters searched the debris for hours for anyone who might have been trapped, officials said
    • The FDNY’s commissioner said “miraculously” no one was found trapped in the rubble after firefighters and emergency crews searched for hours
    • The building had seven active violations related to the façade and the sidewalk shed, according to the Department of Buildings, which stressed these were not structural violations

Emergency crews are still investigating the cause of the collapse of a seven-story residential building in the Bronx. Despite the extensive damage, including exposed apartments and sheared-off walls, the FDNY stated that no one was found trapped in the rubble after a thorough search that lasted several hours.

A video obtained by News 4 shows a close-up view of the MTA bus right outside the deli that was severely damaged in the collapse. The incident occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Monday. The video captures the moment when the scaffolding collapsed, narrowly avoiding a BMW SUV.

A worker wearing a hard hat was observed surveying the aftermath of a sixth-floor apartment. The corner room of the apartment had collapsed, leaving its floor hanging at a dangerous angle amidst a pile of debris. The city’s next course of action will involve demolishing the collapsed corner, although the exact timing of this operation remains uncertain. At present, the primary concern is evaluating the structural stability of the remaining sections of the building and deciding whether it should be entirely demolished.

Less than 24 hours ago, emergency crews swiftly responded to the incident near Phelan Place, only a few blocks away from the Major Deegan Expressway. Captured on Citizen App video, the footage revealed a corner of the building that had collapsed onto the street, with floors above sagging and debris accumulated below.

The FDNY announced on Monday night that they had thoroughly searched through a substantial pile of debris, reaching heights of up to 12 feet in certain areas, and fortunately, no individuals were found trapped. During the evacuation process, two people sustained minor injuries, as confirmed by officials.

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“It is truly remarkable that there were no serious injuries during the partial collapse of the building at 1915 Billingsley Terrace,” stated Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh on X. “Given the condition of the scene and the surveillance footage, the outcome could have been far more devastating.”

After the incident, firefighters were observed meticulously sifting through the debris, which included a chaotic combination of bricks and mangled metal from the dismantled scaffolding surrounding the affected section of the building. A dedicated search dog was also spotted atop the heap, aiding in the search for any potential individuals who might have been trapped beneath the wreckage.

According to a worker at the bodega situated on the ground floor of the building, everyone inside managed to escape unharmed. They were alerted to the danger when they heard a loud noise and saw water gushing from a burst pipe. Recognizing that something was amiss, they quickly fled to safety, just moments before the collapse took place. Mayor Eric Adams later confirmed that all individuals inside the store made it out safely prior to the incident.

According to records from the Buildings Department, the building consists of almost 50 apartments. The collapse of the structure led to the displacement of approximately 140 individuals, including 31 children. As a result, the residents were forced to evacuate with only the clothes they were wearing, leaving behind all their belongings.

People who had meetings with city agencies on Tuesday remained uncertain about when they would be granted access to their homes or if they would ever feel secure in returning to them.

“The building has received numerous complaints from all the tenants. They are constantly expressing their dissatisfaction with the lack of maintenance and repairs provided by the superintendent and landlord,” Julio Almonte voiced his concerns. “I am unsure about how we will manage during the Christmas season. It’s really uncertain.”

New York City Emergency Management Department Commissioner Zachary Iscol informed that they had immediately shut off all power and gas to the building after the collapse. Additionally, the Red Cross was present at the scene to provide aid to those affected. The Red Cross urged any residents who were displaced to seek assistance at PS 396 located at 1930 Andrews Avenue S.

Iscol expressed the department’s intention to explore the possibility of relocating individuals back at a later stage, as there is a significant amount of work that must be completed beforehand.

According to the FDNY, a residential building collapse in the Bronx has resulted in apartments being exposed and walls being sheared off. However, after an extensive search that lasted for hours, it was “miraculous” that no one was found trapped in the rubble.

The Department of Buildings is actively investigating the collapse, according to Commissioner Jimmy Oddo. The seven-story building, which was constructed in 1927, falls under New York City’s façade law, as it exceeds six stories.

The DOB received the latest report on the building from its owner in March 2021. According to Oddo, there were seven unsafe façade conditions, including deteriorating mortar and cracked bricks. Recent work has been carried out on the building, even as recently as a few days ago. However, no visible work was being done on Monday, as noted by the commissioner.

The building had a total of seven open violations, but none of them were related to its structural integrity. All of the violations were specific to the sidewalk shed surrounding the building, particularly concerning issues like inadequate lighting on the shed.

According to the commissioner, the drawings depicting the exterior construction clearly indicate that the area where the collapse took place had preexisting issues. Inspectors from the DOB are eager to examine this specific corner of the structure.

Oddo pointed out that there is a distinction between unsafe façade conditions and an unsafe building.

When looking at the Google Map images of the corner, we can see how the sidewalk shed used to wrap around the building, with the deli located on the ground floor. The scaffolding, which was the focus of previous violations, had wooden or metal platforms that were deteriorating or missing. An inspector had even flagged it as a potential stability risk.

Officials will closely examine the drawings related to the collapsed area, which were submitted as part of the permitting process for the façade work, according to Oddo.

Mayor Adams and his building commissioner recently introduced a comprehensive reform of sidewalk shed regulations to expedite facade repairs and the removal of these structures. The duration of the sidewalk shed prior to the building collapse on Monday remains uncertain.

The spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office mentioned that their investigations division has arrived at the scene and is collaborating with the FDNY and the DOB. However, they clarified that there is no intention to carry out an independent investigation into the building’s owner.

The information in this report is based on contributions from The Associated Press.

Mayor Eric Adams and first responders are holding a news conference to provide the public with an update on Monday’s partial building collapse in the Bronx.

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