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6 injured in New York City crane collapse, FDNY says

Posted at 12:15 PM, Jul 26, 2023

Six people, including four civilians and two firefighters, suffered minor injuries in a crane collapse Wednesday morning in Manhattan.

One of the firefighters had chest pains and was transported to an area hospital, but all injuries are non-life threatening, New York Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Joseph W. Pfeifer said at a news conference. Pfeifer added that some of the civilian injuries were to construction workers.

The incident occurred at a construction site on 10th Avenue and 41st Street, where firefighters responded to a five-alarm fire that broke out before the boom of the crane collapsed, striking a building across the street, city officials said.

The fire has since been put out, according to crews on scene. FDNY officials were using drones late Wednesday morning to get a closer look at the crane.

The blaze erupted while the crane operator was lifting about 16 tons of concrete, Pfeifer told reporters. The operator noticed the fire in the crane’s engine and tried to extinguish it but was overwhelmed by the flames, Pfeifer said, adding the operator got out of the crane’s cab safely.

Smoke rises from a construction crane that caught fire in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Smoke rises from a construction crane that caught fire in Manhattan on Wednesday.

When firefighters arrived, the boom had already crashed to the ground, Pfeifer said. More than 200 fire and EMS personnel responded over the course of the incident.

Officials believe the fire weakened the crane’s cabling “to a point where it loses its strength, and that’s where the collapse occurred,” Pfeifer said.

Footage posted on Twitter showed flames and smoke rising from the crane before its boom fell, hitting the building across the street at 555 10th Ave. Images shared by the office of Mayor Eric Adams showed debris lying in the street below.

Richard Paz, an iron worker who was at the site Wednesday morning, told CNN he saw the crane smoking and told others, “That’s not a good sign.”

Paz saw the crane operator try to extinguish the fire, but when “it got to a point where he couldn’t, he only had the option of exiting the crane, coming down.”

Authorities will be looking at each of the parties involved in the crane’s operation as part of the investigation into the collapse, Commissioner of Buildings James Oddo said during the news conference. The department’s engineers also will assess the structural integrity of the building that was struck by the falling boom.

New York City officials said to expect emergency personnel, smoke, and traffic delays in the area, the city’s emergency notification system said. People should avoid the area between 10th and 11th avenues from West 41st to West 42nd, the New York Police Department said on Twitter.