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Accident Report Detail

Natural Gas-Fueled Building Explosion and Resulting Fire

Executive Summary

On March 12, 2014, about 9:30 a.m. eastern daylight time, two adjacent multiuse five-story buildings were destroyed by a natural gas-fueled explosion and resulting fire. The buildings were situated on the west side of Park Avenue between East 116th Street and East 117th Street in the East Harlem district of the Borough of Manhattan in New York City. The violent explosion damaged buildings on the east and west sides of Park Avenue and along East 116th and East 117th Streets. The Metro-North Railroad suspended rail service for about 71/2 hours on the elevated railway along Park Avenue because of debris from the explosion on the track. Eight people died, more than 50 people were injured, and more than 100 families were displaced from their homes as a result of this accident. The cost to Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (ConEdison), of equipment damages, emergency response activities, remediation, and replacement exceeded $1.9 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was (1) the failure of the defective fusion joint at the service tee, installed by Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., in 2011, that allowed natural gas to leak from the gas main and migrate into the building where it ignited and (2) a breach in the sewer line that went unrepaired by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection since at least2006 that allowed groundwater and soil to flow into the sewer, resulting in a loss of support for the gas main, which caused the line to sag and overstressed the defective fusion joint.

Accident Location: New York , NY    
Accident Date: 3/12/2014
Accident ID: DCA14MP002

Date Adopted: 6/9/2015
NTSB Number: PAR-15-01
NTIS Number: PB2015-104899