As many as 30 people were hurt when an explosion caused a partial building collapse and ignited a massive fire in the East Village on Thursday afternoon, law-enforcement sources told The Post.
A preliminary investigation suggests that workers at the Second Avenue location accidentally “hit a gas main” and touched off the destruction, a police source said.
Flames gutted two adjoining apartment buildings at 121 and 123 Second Ave., with 123 collapsing and 121 in danger of doing so, according to the FDNY.
A dozen people were rushed to local hospitals with various injurues, including four victims in critical condition and another with serious injuries, sources said.
Two civilians who suffered serious burns were rushed to the New York Hospital, while a civilian who was knocked unconscious was taken to Bellevue Hospital, sources said.
Gas service was being shut down along Second Avenue in the East Village, according to Con Ed.
Acrid smoke from the blaze billowed over the neighborhood and spread north across Manhattan, with office workers smelling it even inside high-rise towers in Midtown.
A diner who was eating at the Sushi Park restaurant at 121 Second Ave. told cops he heard an explosion inside the kitchen there, and day laborers said they had been working on a gas line there, a source said.
Construction worker Matty Disilvestro, 51, of Sheepshead Bay, said he felt “the pressure of the blast” while on St. Mark’s Place, about a block north.
“I heard a loud explosion, just a very loud vibrating boom….People who were on the sidewalks and even people on the opposite side of the street were hit with debris,” he said.
“People were bleeding from the head, the face, their hands. People were running. They were confused, had no idea what just happened.”
One witness also said she saw a man climbing up a fire escape toward the roof of one building following the blast. His fate was unknown.
Robert Shapiro, who ran over from a nearby cafe, said that at first, “the whole building was covered in a thick, whitish-tan smoke — I assumed the building was gone, but it wasn’t; you just couldn’t see it.”
“Then all of a sudden the roof erupted in flames. I swear to you, at least 30 feet in the air, bright orange flames,” said Shapiro, who runs the Social Tees animal shelter around the corner on Fifth Street.
“I’ve never seen such an aggressive fire — it was like they were pouring gas on it.”
Cops in the Ninth Precinct stationhouse, about a quarter-mile away, heard a loud bang and raced over, sources said.
The destruction near the corner of Second Avenue and East Seventh Street was first reported to 911 as a possible gas explosion at 3:17 p.m.
The FDNY initially declared a two-alarm emergency, but quickly upgraded it to seven alarms shortly before 4 p.m.