NEW YORK — Officials suspect a recently disconnected stove may have caused an apparent gas explosion Saturday that killed a woman and injured three others in Brooklyn.
New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said firefighters received a call around 1 p.m. reporting an explosion at a building on 13th Avenue near 42nd Street in the Borough Park neighborhood. When emergency crews arrived, they found the entire front of the three-story building blown into the street, he told reporters at a news conference early Saturday evening.
Officials suspect the explosion originated in an apartment on the second floor, where a tenant had recently disconnected a stove. The fire commissioner said no one had reported smelling gas in the area.
"We are told that the tenant purchased a high-end stove and they were moving out of the apartment and were going to take that stove with them," Nigro said.
Councilman Brad Lander said the tenant who lived in that apartment had moved out about a week ago.
Lander said the woman who died was a tenant in her 60s who was originally from the Dominican Republic. He said the woman lived in a third-floor apartment with her daughter, who was out of town at the time.
The woman's body was discovered in a stairwell near the second floor, close to the apartment where the explosion started, Nigro said. Her name was not immediately released.
A 33-year-old man and his 10-year-old son who were walking by the building when it exploded were injured. A 27-year-old passer-by was also injured. Officials said the three had been hit by flying debris but their injuries were considered not life-threatening.
Authorities are still trying to track down another person who lived in the building. Mayor Bill de Blasio said officials just wanted to confirm the person was not home at the time.
Neighbor Harry Roth said a sign sprang off the building's storefront before "the front of the building fell off and it started burning."
The blast rocked the largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in the middle of a Sabbath afternoon.
De Blasio, speaking on cable news station NY1, said the Sabbath could have saved lives because there are less people walking in the neighborhood.
"Had it been the next day it would have been a much worse situation," he said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying the explosion was "the latest in a disturbing trend of incidents." He said he ordered the state's Department of Public Service, the agency that regulates utility companies, to launch an investigation into the cause of the incident.
A spokeswoman for National Grid said staffers for the utility were on the scene. The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the mayor's remarks.
A message left at a possible phone number for the building's owner wasn't immediately returned.
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.