Partial building collapse in Queens

April 12, 2013 8:11:37 PM PDT
A two-story building collapsed onto itself and into the street in Queens.

It happened just after 6:30 p.m. at 78-19 Jamaica Avenue in the Woodhaven section.

On their knees, firefighters furiously dug through the debris with their hands to make sure no one was buried beneath it, after an abandoned building collapsed in Queens Friday evening.

"I just parked it 15-20 minutes before," said Gary Gonzales, car owner.

There was no one under the rubble, but Gary Gonzales' car sure was buried.

"I heard it upstairs, the big boom, I felt the building shake a little bit but I didn't think it was anything major so someone went to get me upstairs and that's when I saw it. I was a little bit shocked, upset, but thank God I was not inside," Gonzales said.

"At first I thought it was thunder because there was a loud bang, my grandma started screaming so I looked out the window and I had seen that the building fell," said Joseph Valez, a resident.

Joanne Jean-Joseph was parking her car across the street.

"I was sitting in my car and all of a sudden I heard a loud crash and I looked over and I noticed that the wall had completely fallen down on the car," Jean-Joseph said.

The building is right next the elevated tracks for the J train, and because they were worried the vibrations would cause more of the building to collapse, service on the J train was suspended for hours.

Firefighters searched adjacent buildings to see if they were in danger.

"We want to make sure we get a look at this building from all four sides to make sure that there's no collapse potential," said Chief Edward Baggott, FDNY.