NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A gas explosion at a Bronx building has left ten people injured, including six children, the FDNY said Thursday.
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It happened around 3:20 p.m. at Paulding Avenue near Poplar Street in the Morris Park section.
Two of the injured children are in critical condition. One of them, a 2-year-old, has special needs, the FDNY said.
The explosion was strong enough to blow out windows and rip a door off its hinges and propel it from the three story building in to power lines across Paulding Avenue.
“Scary. It was scary. It moved the whole building. I live three blocks away,” said Morris Park resident Damaris Santiago.
She and dozens of other neighbors crammed into the narrow residential street where broken glass and debris mixed with snow, and rescuers rushed into the building to get everyone out.
Ten people were taken out with injuries. Six of those injured are children. Most, if not all, were from the second floor where the blast originated. One person was treated at the scene.
“Supposedly the tenant right below where the explosion happened smelled gas,” one man said.
“It was just a boom and everything exploded,” one woman said.
“I’m actually a veteran. It reminded me of being in Afghanistan, being attacked by a mortar round,” Morris Park resident Yanely Rodriguez said.
Before any cops or firefighters made it to the chaotic scene, residents took action and became heroes.
“I felt the impact right here and I rushed right over,” said Morris Park resident Anthony Collins.
Collins and two other good Samaritans used a coat as a safety net to break the fall of a baby tossed to them from the second floor by a mother.
“There was about three of us there, so we all just, I actually took this jacket off and tried to make a little bit of padding for the baby. So the mother was very nervous, so I just I told her, ‘Just drop the baby, it’ll be secure as soon as it hits this jacket.’ So that’s what happened. Thankfully the baby was alright, you know,” Collins said.
Another good Samaritan used a ladder to climb up to the second floor and rescue who woman who they say had a broken leg.
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Norma Galarza was brought to tears describing her frantic day.
“She was trying to jump out of the window with her babies,” she said.
Galarza caught a 6-month-old girl in her arms.
“The baby had her hair burned, her eyelashes burned. She’s a 6-month-old baby. I was so scared for her life,” she said.
Galarza said she had to convince the child’s mom to also drop her 4-year-old daughter down to several neighbors stepping in to help.
“I was begging her to throw her because she wanted to but she was scared,” she said. “But when I took my coat off, she saw that the baby had something to fall on.”
It was a traumatic experience Galarza will never forget, but she says she will always remember the mother who threw her kids from the second floor of their apartment.
“She’s a hero because I would never have been able to do that with my children,” Galarza said. “She’s like the superhero of the world.”
One neighbor told CBS2’s Cory James the blast was so powerful it felt as though an airplane was flying right over them.
“Gas explosions, they’re uncommon, but they do happen. If you have a gas leak, and you have a source of ignition, this is what can happen,” FDNY Deputy Chief John Sarrocco said.
“Obviously some type of gas leak within the building. That’s being investigated by our fire marshals,” one official said.
“Most of the walls are blown out. We did our searches. There are no other victims,” a Department of Buildings official said.
Residents were allowed to go back inside to gather their belongings Thursday night, but they are not allowed to stay in the building overnight.
Two families are being assisted by the Red Cross. Power and gas have been turned off for the apartment building.
At least one adult had to have surgery on their leg, and a 4-year-old child also suffered leg injuries.MORE NEWS: Lashawn McNeil, Suspect In Deadly Harlem Police Shooting, Was On Probation, Had 5 Prior Arrests
CBS2’s Dave Carlin contributed to this report.