“This is a tragedy of the worst kind,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. “There was no indication in time to save people.”
“There are a number of people missing,” de Blasio added. “I emphasize that those who are missing could well be safe in another location and just not contacted yet or reachable yet.”
The fire department confirmed that the explosion involved multiple buildings, and escalated the response to five alarms, with 44 units and more than 200 firefighters responding. According to public records, the address that firefighters initially responded to — 1646 Park Ave. — was built in 1910.
An employee of the man who owns the building said she didn’t know what might have sparked the blast. The five-story building is home to four floors of apartments and Absolute Piano on the street level. The employee said everyone at the piano shop was safe.
According to public records, the neighboring building — 1644 Park Ave. — is home to apartments and the street-level Spanish Christian Church.