NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The American Red Cross of Greater New York on Thursday was assisting dozens of residents displaced by a massive explosion and fire in East Harlem that reduced two buildings to rubble — killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more.
The sudden explosion Wednesday morning on Park Avenue just off 116th Street hurled bricks, glass and other debris across the neighborhood, and sent flames and thick smoke billowing into the air.
The blast also leveled two, five-story buildings that housed a church, a piano store and more than a dozen apartments.
As CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon reported Thursday, when the buildings at 1644 and 1646 Park Ave. collapsed and burned, the blast violently shook 1652 Park Ave. next door.
Aisha Wyatts had just taken her kids to school at the time.
“The ceiling and the walls came crumbling down. So I tried to walk to the door, you know, tried to run to the door to get out of the apartment,” she said. “I couldn’t get out of the apartment. I was stuck.”
The door was jammed. Wyatts said she thought of her children as she banged on the wall.
“I said to myself, ‘Don’t you die in this apartment, you have three kids, you got to be a mother to them,'” Wyatts said. “So I said let me think, 9/11, let me start banging, bang on the doors, let people hear you, let them hear your voice. Cry for help.”
Her neighbor heard her cries and kicked down her door, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported. They got out with moments to spare.
“It’s gone, it’s demolished,” Wyatts said.