Three people were injured after a four-story building at 1438 Fulton St at Tompkins Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesant collapsed suddenly around 2:30pm Tuesday afternoon, said fire officials.
It had been raining all afternoon when the merchants and patrons in the small businesses surrounding the scene first heard the rumble, and many of them said they thought the loud boom was thunder.
“The ground by this barber sharp over here started to shake and everybody just started looking around,” said Ahmed Saleh, 16, who was in Brooklyn visiting from California. “It was weird because we had had rain, but it was just sprinkling. So we knew it shouldn’t have been thundering this bad.”
David Joseph, owner of Rastafari Upliftment Enterprise on Tompkins Avenue said he heard a loud boom and ran outside of his store at around the same time neighboring merchants also began emerging. He said at first, the only thing you could see was a thick cloud of dust and debris and people running and yelling trying to get away. Minutes later, as the dust settled he was able to see that the building located at the mouth of Fulton and Tompkins had fallen.
Within minutes of the collapse, firefighters were on the scene; a large crowd had gathered and police began blocking off the surrounding streets in all directions for several blocks. Firefighters workers immediately began combing through the rubble while emergency medical workers began treating at least three passersby for minor injuries caused by the flying debris.
“There were only three injuries, and they were all non life-threatening,” said the FDNY deputy assistant chief during a brief press conference. “We’re currently having the building assessed by the engineer of the Department of Buildings for evaluation of the structural integrity.
He added that firefighters expected to be on-sight for the next 48-72 hours conducting secondary searches of areas of the building they have not been able to get to yet.
There was no construction work being done on the building at the time of the collapse, said fire officials, and the cause of the collapse is under investigation. However, the building had been sited for a number of complaints over the past year, including falling bricks and an apparently unstable facade, according to the Department of Buildings. And all of the tenants in the adjoining buildings have been instructed to evacuate.
The MTA is advising commuters that the A line will be experiencing delays in both directions. The C line will bypass Kingston-Throop Avs in both directions until further notice. And the B25 bus is taking an alternative route.