By Jessica Easthope
Emergency crews, firefighters and the Buildings Department are investigating the cause of Tuesday’s massive explosion. According to officials there was a call to 9-1-1, someone said they smelled gas just moments before the home shot up in flames. People living on the end of Fox Street have been displaced and relocated by the red cross – what remains of the home now is in a pile.
The blast was so powerful it blew a front door and shattered glass across the street into Nelson Roman’s front yard.
“It was just a boom, a big boom and then the house shook and it was just like what happened,” Nelson said.
He’s still in shock over Tuesday’s explosion that happened in the home attached to his brother’s, he’s thankful he was at work at the time.
Ten families were forced out of their homes by the explosion. Shocking body camera footage shows police officers running into the destroyed building to rescue a woman trapped under furniture – her home in ruins.
“The five officers that were sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation, they’re heroes, they saved lives,” said city councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr.
Councilman Salamanca says the officers have since been released from the hospital, and now the community is looking to another hero to help them through this recovery.
“When tragedies hit we always depend on faith-based organizations to step up and that’s exactly what St. Athanasius did, the doors never closed,” he said.
All of the families displaced were parishioners of St. Athanasius. Juan Sotomayor, who works at the church, remembers back to the 1970s when the Bronx was burning. Negligent landlords were setting their properties on fire to collect insurance money – and St. Athanasius remained a symbol of hope.
“The church was pretty much the only building that stood in the community and has always been a beacon for people to come and pray and find help and again history repeated itself,” said Juan.
Though the blast made his home tremble, Nelson says his faith is not shaken.
“We just look for God and for peace, for strength and love and the strength to endure,” he said.
Emergency management officials are working with the 10 families to see if they can get back into their homes to salvage any belongings before four buildings on Fox Street are completely demolished. One person remains in critical condition.
You can help those families without a home by visiting archny.org to donate directly to Catholic Charities.