12 injured after burning crane partially collapses onto busy Manhattan street
Nine civilians and three firefighters were injured after a burning crane partially collapsed from a Manhattan high-rise.
Due to fallen debris, 10th Avenue remains closed between west 39th and 42nd streets on Thursday morning.
The crane is on a building under construction, located on 10th Avenue and West 41st Street. The cleanup and investigation into what happened is underway.
Officials say the building is currently 47 stories high. Workers had been pouring concrete for what will eventually be a 54-story high rise apartment building.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed flames bursting from the engine compartment of the crane hundreds of feet above street level.
The crane was carrying 16 tons of concrete and as the fire burned, it weakened the cable holding up the concrete until the cable gave way.
The crane boom went swinging like a sledgehammer, slicing a neighboring building, before both it and the concrete collapsed onto the street below.
“As you can see from the debris on the street, this could have been much worse,” Mayor Eric Adams said, noting that the street at that hour of the morning is often filled with pedestrians, cars and buses.
Nearby buildings were evacuated and some witnesses told reporters they had minutes to grab what they could and get to safety.
“I heard this loud noise and then she ran into my room and said ”the crane just went through my window,” evacuated resident Amanda Drewes said.
Officials said the crane operator was there when the fire broke out but could not put it out and had to evacuate. He was able to escape safely.
Within a few minutes, firefighters were shooting water down at the blaze from a balcony of an adjacent building. The fire was under control by 11:45 a.m.
More than 200 police officers and firefighters fanned out across the scene as 10th Avenue was closed for safety reasons until further notice.
A man who lives steps away from the building where the crane collapsed said he thought it was an earthquake.
“Wait a minute we live in NYC and a earthquake does not happen in the New York area, so and then I was like what is going on,” Irakli Klarje said. “Something bad is going on and there was a huge sound as well. So I lift my shade and I see this humongous flames from the crane and the humongous black smoke in front of me.”
New York City Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo identified the company that operated the crane as New York Crane & Equipment Corp.
Records show the company was involved in two deadly collapses in Manhattan 15 years ago.
The company was previously charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection with a collapse in May 2008 that resulted in two deaths at East 91st Street and 1st Avenue. The company and its then-owner were found not guilty in 2012.
The company was also involved in a crane collapse in March 2008 at East 51st Street and 2nd Avenue that killed seven people.
As for this crane incident, the preliminary investigation suggests the fire was likely caused by a hydraulic fluid leak, according to officials briefed on the situation. The probe is ongoing.
Authorities said they planned to investigate the structural integrity of the building that was under construction.
The location is near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and an entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, which carries auto traffic to and from New Jersey under the Hudson River.