Yesterday afternoon, an apparently gas explosion caused a fireball and shook a Flushing apartment building. The fire injured 17 people, including a 2-year-old and her father were were critically injured. A resident told the NY Times, “I saw the man, who was burnt from head to toe. His clothes were burnt and he was screaming, and he said, ‘Save my baby!’”
The man was identified as Edgar Zalbumbide, who lost 75% of his skin. The Daily News reports that he may have "accidentally caused the explosion when he used a candle to light his stove because the pilot light was not working." The building at 147-25 Sanford Avenue had been without gas for over a month, because of a June 11 fire. On Wednesday, service was starting to be restored to different lines in the building, and one resident told the Post, "Right away,we could smell gas. I told Con Ed and they sent somebody out. He told us everything was OK, but I was nervous something like this would happen."
It's unclear what caused the blast, but Con Ed crews were working at the building during the explosion. Con Ed, which said the contractors were responsible for turning on the appliances and the landlord is responsible for making sure it's safe, told the media, "We do integrity tests to see if there are gas leaks. They all checked out."
The tenants were given shelter at the junior high school across the street and it's unclear when the 90-unit building will be open to them again. City Councilman John Liu said, "After suffering for weeks with no hot water or gas, my constituents now find themselves having to live through an even worse nightmare."