Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2nd Avenue update (April 1)

[Photo by Caroleen Stewart]

The latest headlines

East Village explosion might have followed attempt to hide gas siphoning (The New York Times)

"A number of law enforcement sources said Tuesday the investigation could take several weeks and possibly a year to learn what caused the explosion and whether criminal charges are warranted." (Newsday)

Palisades woman owns building that exploded in East Village (News 12 Westchester)

Co-worker opens up about final moments with man believed dead in blast (NY1)

Single mom of three loses rent-stabilized apartment in East Village explosion (WPIX)

Taqueria Diana, San Loco, Paul's, Bar Virage all back open (Eater)

Here is information gleaned from the most recent (dated yesterday) Inter-Agency Update:

• Search and recovery operation is transitioning into evidence gathering and collection
• FDNY members continue to spot check debris, but full sifting is concluding
• Approximately 30 firefighters remain on site
• Marshals investigation continues
• A bus lane is now open on the East side of Second Avenue

Donations and Services

• Today from noon to 4:30 pm., parishioners from the Church of the Nativity, 44 Second Ave. between East Second Street and East Third Street, will be distributing donations to displaced residents. Details in our previous post.

• From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, Velselka is giving out $100 gift cards to displaced residents.

• The 14th Street Y is offering displaced residents and their families six months of membership. Details here.

• As we noted on Sunday, Theater for the New City on First Avenue is offering FREE clothing from their costume collection ("costume" street wear) to its neighbors displaced by the explosion. They have coats, jackets and other clothing. Call 212-254-1109 to make an appointment.

Professor Thom's is hosting another fundraiser for their Second Avenue neighbors. Tomorrow night from 6-10, a donation at the door gets you a free beer from Harpoon Brewery as well as happy hour prices until 10 p.m. All the money collected at the door will go to charity. Professor Thom's is at 219 Second Ave. between East 13th Street and East 14th Street.

Missing Pets

The Washington Square Park Blog has a running list of the missing pets from the buildings. You can find that post here.

And here is the flyer that Whiskers on Second Avenue and East Ninth Street has been distributing…

The number of missing cats has been reduced, though.

Another search by the NYPD and ASCPA yesterday at 125 Second Ave. turned up Sebastian (left) and Kitty Cordelia. They have been reunited with their owner, Kathleen Blomberg. No. 125 is still under a Full Vacate Order.

We also hear that searchers found an unharmed Laszlo yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Sebastian and Kitty Cordelia are safe! Oh, that is the most wonderful news. :))))

Anonymous said...

Any news about the DNA tests with the second body? Any news about Moises Lucon?

creature said...

Very happy about the cats. After all this I'm putting a "Rescue Pets Inside" sticker on my door.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy three of the cats have been found. Thank you to the members of the NYPD and the ASPCA who have been diligently searching for them.

Anonymous said...

Good work to all involved - so had a feeling some were hiding in the building - just because it happened to my with a fire and my cats - a sprinkling of good news this morning. Prayers for the other pets to be found too.

Gojira said...

Finally, some good news. So glad the three are safe, fingers crossed for the other four.

@olympiasepiriot, as of this morning the news shows were saying the ME is still running tests, so no definitive answer yet...

Anonymous said...

Wow! Good kitties!! I can't believe it!

Anonymous said...

I know from my own past experience with this landlord from many years ago in a different East Village building owned by her late husband at the time, that renovations were not always done by licensed professionals and problems resulted, including gas -- but this problem was fixed in my East Village apartment. Again this was many years ago.

I notice that this time around, there was a licensed plumber involved, and that this licensed plumber and the landlord's son went down to the basement together, and were two of the most seriously injured according to news reports, as when they went to investigate, the explosion occurred.

I am wondering if anyone else had access to this basement where this gas pipe was located. It does not make sense to me that the landlord's son and a licensed plumber would risk their lives by going down to the basement to investigate if they thought there was an illegal situation that could cause an explosion and hurt them.
It just does not make sense they would risk their lives like that. If they thought there was an illegal hazardous situation, I think they would not have gone downstairs.

I realize everyone is ready to indict and convict this landlord already, but, I can't help but wonder: did someone break into this basement and cause this situation with the pipes? Is there an unknown 3rd party involved?

Because to this day I am entitled to a rent stabilized renewal lease on my old East Village apartment, but there was so much corruption at NYS DHCR that the landlord's building was extorted from him, and
my renewal lease was stolen from me.

Because of all that corruption that went on with corrupt state officials in that East Village building where I lived, the change of ownership which resulted from all that criminal activity back then, and the fact this landlord's son and the licensed plumber are two most seriously injured in this blast, I am wondering if someone else went into that basement and somehow tampered with pipes hoping an explosion would happen.

There was just so much corruption, and it took so long for me as a non-lawyer tenant to figure out all these forgeries created by DHCR;
it was so criminal. I think it was racketeering. I can't help but wonder if they are now trying to cover up what they did by creating a situation that may land my original landlord's widow in jail because that would surely enable those crooks to get away with what they did to the building where I lived and to what happened.

I just don't know. But I think it is possible. Possible that someone else perhaps is responsible for this recent tragedy. Had the landlord's son not gone down to the basement with a licensed plumber and both been badly injured, I might think differently.

But it makes no sense to me these two would risk their lives if they thought there was the slightest chance of an explosion.

I am thinking someone else accessed that basement and knew, in light of the history of corruption that existed at the other East Village building where I lived, and the corrupt state officials who extorted it from this landlord's late husband.

I don't know for sure what happened here recently. But I know for certain now what happened in the past.


So happy to hear some of these kitties have been reunited with their owners.

nygrump said...

" there was so much corruption at NYS DHCR that the landlord's building was extorted from him, and
my renewal lease was stolen from me"

Can you tell us some more about this?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I will tell you more when I have more time than now.

Anonymous said...

@ Gojira 10:13 am.

Thanks. I hadn't heard that.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:45 pm

I of course do not know what was going through their minds but even if the son and possibly this plumber knew the gas was rigged illegally that would not stop them from going to the basement to investigate. Presumably this illegal siphon had been in place for sometime and they would not have thought an explosion was imminent.

The idea of a 3rd party tampering with the gas line smacks of some XFiles conspiracy sh!t. I mean you might as well blame ISIS or aliens or perhaps some sort of paranormal intervention.

Anonymous said...


nice try landlord

Anonymous said...

@Anon 2:05pm

My thoughts exactly.

James said...

Anonymous your theories make less sense than the most obvious explanation, which is that 911 was not called because the parties involved KNEW that they were dealing with an illegal gas situation. Remember, a lot of these cowboys are stupid enough to work with dangerous gas and electrics even though they are not qualified in the slightest to do so, and the reason is that they are simply ignorant of the danger. They have a swaggering arrogance and bravado which makes them insist that they can do any kind of work, and they will brag about it. And even when the risk is obvious, they will still take that risk over the risk of being caught and fined. Some people really will risk their lives (and the lives of others) for a few bucks. Been shown time and time again in history.

Evresident said...

If you view the videos on YouTube, especially the moments after the explosion, you'll see the landlords son, Mischou/ Michael being carried out and fall to the ground in front of San Marzano restaurant.

Anonymous said...

So the ConEd inspects and all gas is off and then the crooked contractor said he was ENTERING not EXITING the basement and there was a gas explosion. Now tell me how that sounds to you?

Anonymous said...

And sorry if you nest three levels of plumbing contractors you know what you are doing. Very few condos are exploding. There is a vested intrest to have a system of subcontracting in order to set up the last job as some act of lawless wild-westing...the thi g is if you have the know how to bring in the pro it does not line up that you can claim ignorance. This looks like setting up a clear 'mistake'. Who dump tons if money into renovations but holds back on the one renovation that bring the whole building down. No one in condos. Because they are not flipping properties through arson. I have seen this 3 tear contractor scheme before. With the second dodgy contractor bringing in the 'fuck up' who sets the basement fire. Same scam. Its a pattern. It happened in my building.

Anonymous said...

This was my last post:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I will tell you more when I have more time than now.

I have no idea who the other "Anonymous" is posting here.

I see this is getting confusing for a reader to follow, with others now posting Anonymous after me.

I will still get back to this blog and what happened with the corruption.

Funny, just as I am about to write to Maria Hrynenko at her office address, and let her know what I have discovered after all these years, now, there is no building to receive mail at her office address since the building is in ruins and rubble.

And, strange how just as she would have found out information that may have resulted in her contacting a lawyer to sue NYS DHCR for a legal/financial claim, this tragedy happens, making her look like a criminal before any investigation is complete.

Again, I do not know what happened in this tragedy.

But the timing of it sure is odd, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

And same patternI have seen in other basement fires with 'accident' at the time of day the least people would be in the building. That is a red flag.

JAZ said...

@ Anon 3:44

We are ALL playing a bit of a guessing game in this particular instance obviously, but yes, opening a basement door (Entering the basement) absolutely can and often does introduce the sufficient supply of oxygen needed for a basement level gas buildup to combust.

Anonymous said...

Something puzzles me about this whole situation, and perhaps you fine folks here can explain it to me since you're more familiar with the area.

Piecing together what I've read (and seen in pictures) about 121 2nd Ave, renovations were completed on the upper floors last year. What was the original nature of those renovations? I think I can see where what used to be Toy Tokyo was converted to an apartment. Were the upper floors above that always apartments, or were they too converted from business use or vacant space? If they always were apartments, then what was their cooking and heating infrastructure prior to the reno?

I'm curious because at a minimum, at least one apartment was added (unless I am 100% wrong, which is possible), and if the proper permits were obtained (as has been indicated), then how were certificates of occupancy issued upon final inspection if there was no discernible working gas line to those apartments? Reports seem to indicate that prior to the renovations, there was no gas infrastructure serving those upper floors, and it was jury-rigged during this renovation. If this is the case, then the City has some explaining to do, too.

And, honestly, so does Con Edison. Did no one notice an increase in usage for either the restaurant or the building next door? It had to be significant enough to raise a flag. And with a second failed inspection, why were there not more aggressive attempts by the utility to bring it under control? And if they were bypassing the meter, that too had to be obvious during the first failed inspection, which makes it even stranger that Con Ed did not intervene more aggressively, even if only for their own interest. When was the last time you ever heard of anyone getting something for free from a utility?

There is no doubt regarding the criminality of Ms. Hrynenko and her henchman contractors, but it appears as though ConEd and the City are riding a wave of innocence because of the egregiousness of the crime. To me, that makes their complacency worse, not better. Perhaps it's time for a higher level of oversight (or at least investigation), before yet another tragedy occurs.

Apologies for the length, but this has been irking me.

Jill said...

4:48 you make good points. However if plumbers do this type of thing more frequently than we realize, which I'm sure is true, then there must be a way they know to hide the tapped gas lines from Con Ed, bypassing the meter so they don't notice the increased usage.

It sounds to me as though they told Con Ed the tenants didn't have gas, which is why they turned off the gas when the inspectors came and then turned it back on after they left. Perhaps there is more to it than just turning it on, like reconfiguring some pipes, hence the leaks and the explosion.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was my last post:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I will tell you more when I have more time than now.

This was my post above and the one where I included that excerpt above, but I did not write the other two Anonymous postings that follow.

I don't think you can convict someone as certain people want to do before all the facts are in and known.

There may well have been criminal conduct with respect to the gas pipes -- but who did what and why remains an open question, in my opinion.

There is a lot more history and background to the East Village, DHCR and apt renovations in that area than what is currently appearing on this or any blog or newspaper.

I am not posting any more posts on this thread because it is too confusing when two other Anonymous jump on right after I post as Anonymous. I should have picked another screen name. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

Based on a comment above, I looked up the building manager's (landlady's son's) Facebook profile. Bragging about buying a house and a massive SUV just recently... And now we know how the family made their money. Sickening. He also has a photo taken from the top of one of the destroyed buildings. Sure seemed to have enjoyed the view from the top of the ticking time bomb. Real estate people in this city make me sick.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, the building manager actually has a FB post about being hangover, in which he literally wrote WOOO HOOO. I didn't think I could dislike a real estate person more, but this guy seems like just the type of money-obsessed party bro that we have way too much of in this neighborhood. And he lived on 7th and 2nd Ave until recently, so now EV bros are not only destroying our quality of life on weekend evenings, but actually destroying livelihoods through their sketchy real estate dealings. I am so angry. I'd never looked at a stranger's FB profile just because the person was in the news, but I think this one says a lot about the character of the person who managed the buildings where 2 people just died and dozens of others lost all they had. End of rant.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, really end of rant now... But it's too much. From the guy's open Facebook profile:
"Pool open, deck gettin extended for extra beer pong tables... Lmfao, summers gonna be starting early!"
"So I'm like mom, u can afford it. Buy me a Lamborghini for my birthday. This is what I got. [photo of toy car] — at Hrynenko's."
"It's too nice outside. Can't wait for the ride home from work. Windows down, shades on, subwoofers causing chaos in the city streets"


Jill W. said...

I've also been wondering about 4:48's point about how residents traditionally received heat and cooking gas. Looks like a classic residential building that has been around for a century.

Anonymous said...

Please start screencapping that FB shit