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Explosion Rocks Manhattan Building
April 25, 2002 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Explosion Rocks Manhattan Building NEW YORK -- More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene of a possible collapse Thursday at a building housing a technical school in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Fire officials said it appeared some type of explosion collapsed some floors of the building. They said 21 people were being treated at the scene for injuries. West 19th Street is closed between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
From The Scene real Player Video
posted by Blake (46 comments total)

 
Wow. My wife (quixoticlife to you MeFiers) works a block away. Now...which thread to kill, which thread to kill...

Apparently, early indications point to a gas explosion and no casualties. Eerie how the words explosion or building collapse can make us a little jitterey these days. It was at the Apex school, a technical school for auto mechanics and air conditioning training.
posted by adampsyche at 9:21 AM on April 25, 2002


This says it was likely a boiler explosion.
posted by nikzhowz at 9:26 AM on April 25, 2002


they're saying it wasn't actually Apex but a boiler explosion in a residential building immediately adjacent---to the west, I think---50 people hurt.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2002


Freaky....after the MeFi party tonight, I'm sleeping over at Rob the EMT's place, which is in Chelsea...we were just watching the news looking for him among the rescue workers.
posted by jonmc at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2002


12:37: NY1: no fatalities reported. Gas or boiler explosion theoretically may have triggered the explosion. All students from Apex evacuated safely. "No indication that this was anything more than a terrible accident." 6 critically injured at St. Vincent's, 50 total as Sapphire said. Still possibly a construction accident.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:39 AM on April 25, 2002


It's two blocks from here (my home). I was running errands just down sixth avenue when it happened and passed the site on the way back. The police were still trying to block off surrounding streets. The rubberneckers included the full range of crazy New Yorkers, from a couple of guys yelling "Nuke the bastards" to people complaining that they had to walk around the block to return to work.
posted by liam at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2002


i'm up on park and 46th and the sirens have been non-stop for the last hour or so. from what i've read it seems like everything is under control. anyone know how and when they would decide to stop sending fire and police to a scene like this?
posted by m@L at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2002


Apex Tech? Will the firefighters get to keep their toolboxes when they're done? How did 911 get alerted to the explosion? After all, "I can't call you!"

<80s NYC TV ad reference>Sorry, couldn't resist. That was always one of my favorite Bad Ads of All Time.</lame 80s NYC TV ad reference> I hope none of the injuries are life-threatening.
posted by aaron at 10:11 AM on April 25, 2002


It looks like the evolution of Mefi from cutting-edge community blog to adjunct to Action News is complete...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2002


thank you aaron for posting what I had apprehensions about doing. let's hope that the Carvel building is OK.
posted by machaus at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2002


a couple of guys yelling "Nuke the bastards"

It's official. The terrorists have won.
posted by jpoulos at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2002


Didn't they think that the OKC bombing was just a boiler explosion at first? Not to be alarmist...
posted by elvissinatra at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2002


So, quick, how many *other* NYC MeFis got panicked phone calls from relatives? My lil'sis called me from *Florida* before I'd even heard anything happened -- it was all over the news! My mother called not five minutes later.
posted by metrocake at 11:10 AM on April 25, 2002


I got the old 9.11 massive AIM besiegement. And, remarkably, a phone call from that news-hound Jill Matrix in Miami before it was even on the news here in Manhattan.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:14 AM on April 25, 2002


Law enforcement officials said did not appear to be an act of terrorism.

I'm tired of having to read this disclaimer every time something shitty happens in the world. Here's a shocking bit of reality -- a lot of disasters, big and small, happen every day. Very very few of them are acts of terrorism. Defining every disaster against 9/11 makes no more sense than defining them against the sinking of the Titanic -- "Local officials said this did not appear to be caused by massive icebergs".
posted by briank at 11:34 AM on April 25, 2002


How do they know there weren't any icebergs they would have melted in the explosion.
posted by onegoodmove at 11:39 AM on April 25, 2002


The first thing I wondered when I heard about an explosion in NY was, "Was it a terrorist attack?" I'm glad for the disclaimer. It might not be appropriate for oceanliner crashes, but for explosions in buildings...
posted by Doug at 11:53 AM on April 25, 2002


I'm tired of having to read this disclaimer every time something shitty happens in the world

Oh please, do you really think when people hear about an explosion in nyc they aren't going to automatically assume terrorists (which all of my relatives did before I even heard about it). I think it only makes sense that the press report that it is NOT terrorism. It's not as thought they were talking about a major accident on the West Side Highway and then mentioned "by the way this had nothing to do with terrorists")
posted by m@L at 11:55 AM on April 25, 2002


Sensationalistic media/journalism wins again, sigh...
posted by camworld at 11:59 AM on April 25, 2002


I have been getting calls all day about my wife. She didn't hear a peep, and works a few blocks away. She didn't know until my mom called her. I wonder if this would have made the news had it happened in the Midwest or something.
posted by adampsyche at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2002


.. because if they didn't tell us it wasn't terrorism, we would assume it could be. And then we'd feel even better about the people we're shooting in Afganistan.
posted by fnirt at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2002


Oh please, do you really think when people hear about an explosion in nyc they aren't going to automatically assume terrorists (which all of my relatives did before I even heard about it). I think it only makes sense that the press report that it is NOT terrorism

It's pandering to people's fears, in fact it only makes their fears worse by reminding them it could have been terrorism even if the probability is 99.99999% against. It's irresponsible journalism cloaking itself in the mock sincerity of providing "important information", when in fact that is a statement of complete non-information.
posted by briank at 12:38 PM on April 25, 2002


briank: i don't know where you live, but here in new york nothing the media says is going to make peoples fears worse as you claim. nearly everyone i know still gets a little nervous (albeit irrationally) when they see a jet that is flying too low. to me, this is simply a way of telling people to calm down and that its not that big a deal. i don't think anyone who was here needed a "reminder" that this could have been terrorism.....in fact, i think that was absolutely the first thing in their mind and they did need to be told it wasn't what they feared.
posted by m@L at 1:04 PM on April 25, 2002


It's irresponsible journalism cloaking itself in the mock sincerity of providing "important information"

I have another definition for it: CNN's formula for surefire high ratings.

I also yearn those past times when accidents news were just that.
posted by betobeto at 1:05 PM on April 25, 2002


m@L -- unfortunately, CNN, et. al. are not addressing the people of New York City alone.

Let me ask you this: if the collapse of the WTC had been caused by something other than a terrorist attack (like maybe the explosion of all the diesel fuel that was apparently stored in the towers), would people be afraid that every building was at risk of diesel fuel explosions? Would it make you feel any better to know that today's explosion "was not caused by diesel fuel"?
posted by briank at 1:27 PM on April 25, 2002


I have to agree with several other posters. As a New Yorker, the first thing I want to know when hear the word "explosion" is if it was terrorism or not. The rest of you in other parts of the country or world are just going to have to deal with the fact that most New Yorkers are real paranoid right now.
posted by bob bisquick at 1:32 PM on April 25, 2002


The rest of you in other parts of the country or world are just going to have to deal with the fact that most New Yorkers are real paranoid right now.

Ah! Of course, how stupid of me! The only thing in the world that matters is the comfort level of New Yorkers! That explains this whole War on Terrorism deal.
posted by briank at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2002


briank - on a fully rational level i understand and agree with what you are saying. i do think that at the very least, though, psychologically there is an enormous difference between a terrorist attack and a diesel fule explosion, and i don't think you can completely discount the fears of the general population that easily. i guess what it comes down to is this: for the short term (in new york at least) how should these issues be addressed? i don't think that simply saying "large explosion in chelsea and we have no idea why" would have worked for most of the people in the city. so, do you think, that even local media should completely ignore what has happened in the past months when reporting on what (at first) may or may not be a related story? if so how would you address the overwhelming fears of the public (lets say in particular here in new york). i honestly don't know how else it could be dealt with and i don't think that in instances like today's explosion not giving any info on the blast would make things better among the general public.
posted by m@L at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2002


This changes everything.
posted by adampsyche at 1:44 PM on April 25, 2002


i don't think that simply saying "large explosion in chelsea and we have no idea why" would have worked for most of the people in the city

But they did say why, or at least what passes for why for now until they can investigate the situation in greater detail. Which means anything else is unneccessary. Assuming a relationship based on superficial appearances does not mean the relationship exists. Journalists are supposed to be trained to report what happened, not what didn't happen, or what might have happened, and they've thrown that out the window in favor of saying anything sensationalistic that might make you pay attention.

As adampsyche implied, if this happened in Youngstown, Ohio, it would scarcely be considered news and no one would feel it necessary to report that "it wasn't an act of terrorism".
posted by briank at 1:54 PM on April 25, 2002


Would it make you feel any better to know that today's explosion "was not caused by diesel fuel"?

Yes, for the simple reason that another disesel fuel explosion is rare, but this could have been the beginning of a new terror campaign and I'm sure people would like to know that so they can stay home and not go to work in a high-rise that has a big target on it in the eyes of terrorists.

That seems pretty rational to me.
posted by skallas at 2:04 PM on April 25, 2002


My brother works in Manhattan and when I heard that a building was down — what caused it?! was my very first question. If they hadn’t said that it wasn’t more of this... well, there’d be a whole lot of freakin’ going on.
posted by mimi at 2:17 PM on April 25, 2002


I don't really understand. I've lived in New York for over two years now. September 11 did not affect me much in the way that I did not change my life, my plans, or anything else. I did not react in the same way most people did, but instead took a very realistic look at things. I continue to do all the same things I did before 9/11/01. I don't think daily about the WTC, even though I work mere blocks from the area.

Perhaps that is why when a building explodes, or a train wrecks, or a plane crashes I don't think much about it. It's not that I'm uncaring or that I don't fear things, it's just that I look at a lot of the things that happen in our world (accidents or not) as unavoidable and that if there is little I can do to avoid them then I'm not going to get all paranoid or anything.

I am pretty certain that terrorists will attack U.S. soil again but I have no idea when or where. I am also certain that accidents will continue to happen. It's a way of life, and I've accepted it as being a part of living in today's society.

Going bananas over stuff like this is not healthy. Obsessing over every little news report and treating it as sensationalistic is not the right approach.

I'm also the guy who pushes slow-walking tourists and pedestrians out of the way on NYC sidewalks. Get out of my way! Just kidding...

If you're not comfortable living and working in New York City, then get the hell out.

-- end of rant
posted by camworld at 2:34 PM on April 25, 2002


If you're not comfortable living and working in New York City, then get the hell out.

i'll tell that to my friends who where born and bred in brooklyn and queens, but were nonetheless a bit shaken up by 9/11. i'm sure they will be glad to be spoken down to by someone who has lived in the city an entire 2 years.
posted by m@L at 2:44 PM on April 25, 2002


i'm sure that if a building had exploded in oklahoma city (which is considered the midwest, i believe?) a few months after the bombing there, the media probably would have said the same thing. and it probably would have gotten coverage. and people probably (both in the city and outside of it) would have wondered if it was another bomb.

but, it's all hypothetical, isn't it?
posted by witchstone at 2:50 PM on April 25, 2002


Would it make you feel any better to know that today's explosion "was not caused by diesel fuel"?

Yes. If diesel fuel had vowed to kill as many Americans as it could.
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:51 PM on April 25, 2002


I'm somewhere in the middle. I live on Long Island, I've worked at various places in Manhattan for almost fifteen years (if you count my summer college jobs, heh). When my sis called this morning, the first thing I asked her was, "Where did this happen?" When she told me, I automatically calmed down. Why? Because it's not that terrorists *wouldn't* hit Chelsea, but it's pretty unlikely that they would, in my opinion. There's not a ton of high-profile buildings or landmarks in the area.

If a building had exploded or collapsed around, say, the UN, or if it had been a major midtown hotel (where a diplomat could be staying at), *then* I'd be nervous. A major landmark or "high-profile" area? Then I'd be nervous. Empire State Building? I'm outta here on the first train home, babe.

I'm not as sanguine as Camworld, but I'm not going to completely freak over every little thing that happens in this city. To me, you need to think -- and evaluate -- before you get upset.
posted by metrocake at 2:58 PM on April 25, 2002


Boy, briank, going for the twit of the day award? People do not worry that a random explosion might be terrorism simply to annoy you, although that's looking like an attractive motive right now. They do it because they're human, not robots, and this is a natural reaction considering recent events. As it happens, the question of terrorism was being dismissed even as I first heard of this on the noon news, so it doesn't seem to have been a major concern for very long at all.

SapphireBlue: touché.
posted by dhartung at 3:32 PM on April 25, 2002


I gotta admit, though, despite the unfortunate exploitation of it by the media, for NYers to ask the terrorism question upon first hearing about it is understandable. I consider myself quite levelheaded, but when my Mom called and asked me to call my wife because there was an explosion in Chelsea, it popped into my head. I didn't go nuts, but it occurred to me, and I suspended judgement until I talked to my wife (who had no idea that it happened, despite working a block and a half away).

It is understandable to think of terrorism first, considering 3000 fucking people died in terrorism just a few strides south. It is most unfortunate to me that the natural reaction to exploitation by the media also involves a reaction to the damage the attacks have done on a city of people. I am so sick of the war on terrorism, but that is separate from what happened to NYC and the consequences for those who live and work there.

Certainly, it is rational to suspend judgement, and I was able to, but only to a degree. My dad was supposed to be at a meeting on windows of the world on 9/11, and by a twist of fate he was on his way up late when the shit went down. It is natural to have some lingering feelings.
posted by adampsyche at 5:14 PM on April 25, 2002


As adampsyche implied, if this happened in Youngstown, Ohio, it would scarcely be considered news and no one would feel it necessary to report that "it wasn't an act of terrorism".

Yes it would be considered news. An explosion and fire that required more than 100 firefighters to show up, hurt 12 critically and another 30 less so, would be all over the cable news channels from the moment the alert went out over the AP wire, no matter where in the US it occurres. And they would absolutely be speculating on the possibility of terrorism, in their usual playing-it-down-while-playing-it-up fashion, until some authority figure provided some answers. This has already happened across the country dozens of times since 9/11, and will happen again. Just flip on CNN the next time something blows up somewhere in the country besides NYC ... or hell, anywhere in the non-Arab world for that matter (remember Milan last week?).

Also, I agree with camworld. I lived in Manhattan for 12 years, only a couple miles uptown from the WTC, though I was gone by 9/11. When I was watching it play out on TV from 600 miles away, I was not the least bit scared of anything happening to me, even as my phone was ringing off the hook with family members and acquaintances believing this was the beginning of WWIII or something and that a 747, or a nuke, was going to plow into our downtown at any moment. And if I were back in NYC today, I wouldn't feel one iota more scared about day-to-day life there than I ever did in the past. I realize Cam and I are in the minority on this, though. There are a lot of PTSDing New Yorkers right now.
posted by aaron at 8:18 PM on April 25, 2002


So, quick, how many *other* NYC MeFis got panicked phone calls from relatives?

Sure did. I found about about it after having, apparently, walked about 3 blocks from it just after it happened, by getting a call from my sister 300 miles away. And I work at a newspaper.

Proving, of course, that I'm oblivious. And wouldn't some of you find it ridiculous if they didn't mention the causes of the explosion? It seems a relevant part of the story, to me.
posted by anildash at 12:33 AM on April 26, 2002


And they would absolutely be speculating on the possibility of terrorism, in their usual playing-it-down-while-playing-it-up fashion, until some authority figure provided some answers

And they would be just as wrong to do so.

twit of the day award

Aw, gosh, dhartung, that means so much to me coming from you. GUUUUSSSHHHHH
posted by briank at 6:12 AM on April 26, 2002


Relevant, also, is the easy presence of news chopper feeds. No matter how banal, TV news loves its live video. Beats newsreading the school board salary fight, one supposes.
posted by dhartung at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2002


so they can stay home and not go to work in a high-rise that has a big target on it in the eyes of terrorists.

because terrorists only attack high-rise buildings.


in oklahoma city (which is considered the midwest, i believe?)

no. midwest is, like, Ohio.
posted by tolkhan at 7:08 AM on April 26, 2002


Yesterday as I heard the sirens rush down Houston my stomach dropped. When the office gossip turned to explosion, I thought please no.

Maybe I am not as blasé or tough, depending on how you want to look at it, as others. Either way I am still easily touched. When the subway announcer says “We are currently stopped because of an incident at ….”, I worry. But I also find myself just as concerned when I listen to the radio and hear the details of events in the Middle East or Afghanistan. In general I still feel fragile.
posted by mmm at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2002


This isn't aimed at anyone in particular:

There are a lot of PTSDing New Yorkers right now.

I think that's a very important point. I know people are genuinely scared, but if you're still being deeply affected on a daily basis by 9/11, it might be a good idea to talk to someone about it. In many ways, it's natural to feel lingering effects after something so traumatic--but it isn't necessarily healthy. You are in a lot less danger than you may feel. Talking to a professional may help you realize that.
posted by jpoulos at 8:56 AM on April 26, 2002


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