One-year anniversary of East Harlem explosion that left 8 dead

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

EAST HARLEM (WABC) -- A grim anniversary will be marked in East Harlem Thursday.

It has been one year since a gas explosion leveled two apartment buildings and left eight people dead and dozens of others hurt.

The victims ranged in age from 22 to 67 years old.

The blast destroyed two five-story apartment buildings at Park Avenue and 116th Street that were served by an 1887 cast-iron gas main.

An NTSB pressure test identified a leak in the main gas pipe that runs under Park Avenue.

City officials said the blast erupted about 15 minutes after someone reported smelling gas.

Both buildings collapsed to the first floor, and neighboring buildings were also damaged. Firefighters spent several hours battling the resulting five-alarm fire.

Smoke poured from the top of the buildings, and huge amounts of debris littered the surrounding sidewalks and elevated tracks in the area.

The heavy smoke lasted for hours and could be seen for miles.

Surrounding buildings in the area were evacuated, but the Buildings Department said the blast did not affect the structural integrity of other buildings.