Manhattan Three-Alarm Restaurant Fire

Investigation Begins in Manhattan Crane Collapse

565-foot long crane collapsed in Manhattan while it was being lowered.
A collapsed crane fills the street on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in New York. The huge construction crane was being lowered to safety in a snow squall when plummeted onto the street in the Tribeca neighborhood of lower Manhattan. (Brian Marrone via AP)
Published Monday, February 8, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — It may take weeks to determine why a huge construction crane that was being lowered during strong winds came crashing down onto a street, killing a pedestrian and crushing a row of parked cars, city officials said Saturday.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from nearby buildings and poring over the twisted, crumpled steel of the 565-foot-long crane, which came thundering down onto a historic Manhattan street 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center during Friday morning's commute.

Officials said they recovered the mobile crane's movement recording computer, which could provide clues — such as the angle of the boom — as to why the crane fell. But they cautioned its data was just one piece of the puzzle.

"It is not the equivalent of a black box," Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said. "But I don't want to set the expectations too high. It's not going to give us data on wind speeds or the actions of the operators."

Work crews crawling over the sprawling accident site began to slice up the downed crane into as many as 35 pieces, which will be loaded by four other cranes onto flatbed trucks and removed for further study. Officials said they hoped to have the block of Worth Street cleared of debris by Monday morning.

It could be several days, though, before buildings whose pipes were crushed can have their water restored and before crews can repave the street and sign off on its stability.



Wall Street worker David Wichs, 38, was walking on the street below and was killed by the crane collapse. He was a mathematical whiz who worked at a computerized-trading firm, his family said. Born in Prague, he had moved to the United States as a teenager and graduated from Harvard University, said his sister-in-law, Lisa Guttman.

"He really created a life for himself," she said through tears. "He literally took every opportunity he could find."

Three other people were struck by debris and injured in the collapse.

The crane was used to install generators and air conditioning units atop a nearby high-rise and had been inspected by the Department of Buildings on Thursday to approve an extension, officials said. It had the capacity to carry as much as 330 tons.

The crane was rated to withstand wind gusts up to 25 mph, but when winds neared 20 mph on Friday the crew opted to secure it. A bystander's video taken through a window high above the ground showed the crane's arm descending in wind-blown snow and then taking the crane to the ground.



The crane's operator tested negative for drugs or alcohol and was cooperating with investigators. The crane was being used by Galasso Trucking and Rigging in Queens. Calls for comment were not returned.

Cranes dotting the skylines of Manhattan and Brooklyn have become increasingly commonplace and are emblematic of a building boom across the city, particularly of high-rise residential and commercial structures. Questions about their safety have persisted since two tower cranes collapsed in Manhattan within two months of each other in 2008, killing a total of nine people.

After Friday's crane collapse, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered that all cranes in the city cease operation. Tower cranes attached to the sides of buildings were allowed to resume work Saturday, but crawling cranes like the one that fell Friday must first be approved by city inspectors before they can return to work.

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Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
   

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Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Emergency Response to Manhattan Crane Collapse Fatal Crane Collapse in Manhattan

    Fatal Crane Collapse in Manhattan

    One person was killed and three injured by debris as crane collapsed.
    A collapsed crane fills the street on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in New York. The huge construction crane was being lowered to safety in a snow squall when plummeted onto the street in the Tribeca neighborhood of lower Manhattan. (Brian Marrone via AP)
    Published Friday, February 5, 2016

    NEW YORK (AP) — A huge construction crane being lowered to safety in a snow squall plummeted onto a Lower Manhattan street Friday, killing a Wall Street worker in a parked car and leaving three people hurt by debris that scattered as the rig's lengthy boom fell, officials said.

    The mobile crane's boom landed across an intersection, smashed several car roofs and stretched much of a block after the accident around 8:25 a.m. at a historic building about 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center.

    Robert Harold heard a crashing sound as the rig fell right outside his office window at the Legal Aid Society.

    "You could feel the vibration in the building," said Harold, who recounted seeing onlookers trying to rescue someone trapped in a parked car and seeing a person lying motionless on the street.

    The collapse killed David Wichs, a mathematical whiz who worked at a computerized trading firm, his family said. Born in Prague, he had immigrated to the United States as a teenager and graduated from Harvard University, said his sister-in-law, Lisa Guttman.

    "He really created a life for himself. He literally took every opportunity he could find," she said through tears.

    After the collapse, the crane's big cab lay upside-down in the snow with its tank-like tracks pointed at the sky. Red metal from the boom jutted up in an intersection next to a green street sign for the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio said two people were seriously injured, while a third suffered more minor injuries.

    A bystander video shown to WABC-TV showed the arm, extended down the block, slowly crash to the ground.



    The accident happened as workers were trying to secure the crane against winds around 20 mph by lowering the boom, which had been extended to as long as 565 feet the day before, officials said. Because the crane was being lowered, workers were directing pedestrians away from it on a street that otherwise would likely have been teeming with people.

    "Thank God we didn't have more injuries and lose more people," de Blasio said. "It's something of a miracle that there was not more of an impact."

    Officials were working to determine why the crane fell. An employee who answered the phone at the offices of crane owner Bay Crane would say only that an investigation was underway and wouldn't give his name. The company officials identified as the crane operator, Galasso Trucking Inc., didn't immediately respond to messages about the collapse.

    Capable of lifting 330 tons, the rig had been working for about a week to replace air conditioning equipment and generators on the roof of 60 Hudson Street, a 425-foot-tall, Jazz Age skyscraper that once housed Western Union and takes up an entire block, officials said. City building inspectors had been at the site only Thursday because the boom was being extended so it could reach farther onto the roof, de Blasio said.

    Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said inspectors found no problems then with the crane, "but obviously, it requires investigation in terms of the way this was done," he said.

    The building's owners declined to comment.

    Nearby buildings were evacuated after the collapse and subway trains bypassed the area while fire and utility officials checked and rechecked nearby buildings for gas leaks.

    All 376 mobile cranes registered with the city, as well as all 43 of the larger tower cranes, were ordered put in secure positions.

    Crane safety came under scrutiny in the city in 2008, when two tower cranes collapsed in Manhattan within two months of each other, killing a total of nine people. A crane rigger and crane owner were tried and acquitted on manslaughter charges; a mechanic pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

    The accidents spurred the resignation of the city buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures, including hiring more inspectors and expanding training requirements and inspection checklists.

    But another crane fell and killed a worker in April 2012 at a subway construction site that was exempt from most city building safety rules. In January 2013, a crane collapsed at a Queens construction site and injured seven workers.

    In April, a construction worker died when the hydraulics malfunctioned on the boom truck he was inspecting in midtown Manhattan, causing the boom to collapse and fall on him, pinning him against the flatbed.

    Last May, a mobile crane dropped a 13-ton air conditioner being placed atop a midtown Manhattan building, injuring 10 people.

    Cranes have also dropped loads or come close to falling apart in other incidents, including a dramatic episode in which a crane's boom nearly snapped off during Superstorm Sandy and dangled precariously over a midtown block near Carnegie Hall.

    ___

    This story has been corrected to show that the collapse happened Friday, not Thursday.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong, Jake Pearson, Jennifer Peltz and Ula Ilnytzky contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story

    Associated Press
    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    New York Firefighters Association Releases Report on Economic Value of Volunteers

    FASNY releases the first comprehensive economic study in more than a decade
    In this April 17, 2015 file photo, volunteer firefighters Rodney Pulver and Fred Goodnow carry air bottles to be filled in Hudson, N.Y. A study released by The Fireman’s Association of the State of New York on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 calculates that switching over to all-paid squads would cost $3.1 billion in pay and benefits annually, plus additional costs for maintaining living and eating quarters. There also would be a one-time cost of $5.9 billion for a statewide switchover. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)
    Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    ALBANY, New York – New York’s Volunteer Firefighters not only save lives, they also save billions in tax dollars for the state. In fact, New Yorkers save more than $3 billion each year due to the services provided by the State’s volunteer fire service according to a financial impact study released today by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).  

    Read the Report: Tax Savings and Economic Value of Volunteer Firefighters in New York State

    New York’s nearly 100,000 volunteer firefighters are available at a moment’s notice to mitigate emergency situations and disasters, both short-term and for extended periods of time. In recent years, volunteer fire departments have been called upon to respond to hurricanes, blizzards, floods and large scale emergencies. These men and women are constantly training, providing ongoing community outreach and fire safety education, all to help their fellow neighbors and on their own time. Although their impact is felt throughout their communities every day, this study now quantifies the full financial impact these men and women create as they volunteer their time all across New York State.

    The report, titled “Tax Savings and Economic Value of Volunteer Firefighters in New York State” was prepared by ERS Group, and is the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.  In addition to the fiscal impact that volunteers have on the State’s taxpayers, the report also quantifies the addition of Federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant funding in recruiting more volunteer firefighter and the resulting effect of lowering response times across the State.

    Among the findings in the report:

    • New York State’s nearly 100,000 volunteer firefighters save taxpayers $3.87 billion EVERY YEAR in salary and benefits, and potential debt service
    • If NYS switched to all-paid fire service:
    • An additional 30,822 firefighters would need to be hired and more than 1,300 stations would have to be built new or reconstructed
    • There would be one-time cost of $5.95 billion to acquire existing structures, vehicles and equipmen
    • Property taxes across the state would rise on average 26.5% to cover the added cost (taxes would rise between 3.3% and 123% depending on county)

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    New York Firefighters Narrowly Avoid House Explosion

    Audio: New York Firefighters Narrowly Avoid House Explosion

    Henrietta firefighters arrive just moments before explosion occurs
    EVAN ANSTEY, WIVB Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Flames rose from a home on Buckley Place in Henrietta Tuesday morning after it exploded, according to Rochester CBS contributors WROC.

    The explosion was due to a gas leak that was reported just after 8:15 a.m., according to Henrietta Town Supervisor Jack Moore.

    Moore was told that a car had struck a gas meter. Two people were able to escape the home unharmed, according to neighbors.

    WROC says a firefighter was hospitalized due to a back problem unrelated to the explosion.

    “I could have lost a whole crew of firefighters,” said Henrietta Fire Chief Jim Comstock.

    Another home was damaged by fire, according to WROC.

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    Henrietta firefighters arrived at the scene of a gas leak moments before an explosion occurred on Feb. 2, 2016. (WIVB/Amy Young, News8 Twitter photo)

    Maydays at Staten Island House Fire

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