[UPDATE BELOW] The massive explosion that blew out the front of a Borough Park apartment building on Saturday—killing at least one woman and injuring thirteen other tenants and pedestrians—may have been the result of a suicide attempt by a tenant who had recently been evicted from her apartment, according to investigators.
The tenant, who is still missing, reportedly lived in the same apartment where investigators believe a stove was disconnected from its gas hookup—possibly causing the explosion.
Saturday's explosion took place at 4206 13th Avenue near 42nd Street around 1 p.m., and more than 200 fire fighters were called in to battle the blaze. The building contains a ground floor hardware and electronics store called Pots N Watts, and two stories of apartments. CBS has since acquired footage of the moment the explosion occurred.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted a news conference on Sunday, where NYPD officials confirmed that one tenant remains missing. According to the NY Times, rescue teams couldn't begin excavating until Sunday, since the site of the explosion continued to smolder all day Saturday. Last night, the building was partially demolished to speed up the process.
The missing female tenant, who the Post identifies as 48-year-old Francisca Figueroa, recently posted "suicidal thoughts" on social media, according to NBC.
"We all heard from her that morning, but after it happened, nothing. We are very worried, we don't know where she is," her sister told the Post on Saturday. According to the tabloid, Figueroa had recently been evicted from her apartment, and was in the process of moving out when the explosion happened.
"It was a very bitter landlord and tenant [court] dispute," added one neighbor. "The landlord told me it took a very long time to get Figueroa out. There were bad feelings on both sides."
CBS reports that Figueroa lived with two teenage children, who were not at home when the explosion took place.
Police have also identified the 64-year-old victim as one Ligia Puello, a tenant on the third floor. Puello was found dead in the building's stairwell. Three other people—a 34-year-old father and his 9-year-old child, and a 27-year-old man—were taken to Methodist Hospital in stable condition. The other victims, including pedestrians struck by falling debris, suffered minor injuries.
Five buildings remained under vacate order on Sunday, and about 50 neighbors have been evacuated from the area until further notice. The NY Times reports that a nearby school has been set up as a temporary "service center" for displaced tenants. It is likely that the entire building will ultimately be demolished.
"This explosion is the latest in a disturbing trend of incidents that occurred in Harlem and the East Village," said Governor Cuomo in a statement. "In light of this, I am directing the State Department of Public Service to undertake an investigation into the cause of this incident."
UPDATE: An FDNY spokeswoman has confirmed that a second body was recovered from the wreckage of Saturday's explosion this afternoon. The deceased, yet to be identified, is likely Francisca Figueroa, the only tenant reported missing at a press conference on Sunday.
According to a Monday evening release from the Mayor's office, the FDNY is still on the scene removing debris, and an investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing. The Department of Buildings has placed vacate orders on 4202, 4204, 4206, 4208, and 4210 13th Avenue, and is providing NYPD escorts for tenants who wish to return to other buildings on the block.
As of this evening, 49 residents have been displaced. A service center at the Borough Park library will be open until 6:00 p.m. tonight, and from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. 13th Avenue between 42nd and 44th Streets and 43rd Street between 13th and 14th Avenues remain closed to cars.