Yesterday morning, a construction crane 45 stories in the air caught on fire and collapsed, hitting a neighboring high-rise building and causing citizens to scramble.
The fire broke out on the top of the crane while it was moving a 16-ton load of concrete at 7:30am. The crane operator attempted to get the flames under control by using the fire extinguisher on hand, but it was not enough, and he was forced to escape the crane as the flames continued to grow.
The 180-foot-long boom of the crane then began its descent, collapsing into the neighboring building on Tenth Ave and scattering debris onto the street. Employees from shops as well as guests and staff from hotels surrounding the area were evacuated.
According to the FDNY First Deputy Fire Commissioner, Joseph Pfeifer, over 200 firefighters and emergency responders came to the scene to assist in the aftermath. Police worked quickly to shut down the streets neighboring the accident. Officials say that a total of 12 people were injured, 3 of which are firefighters. All of the injuries from the accident are minor and everyone is in stable condition.
The investigation into why the crane collapsed is still ongoing, but the fire is believed to have occurred due to hydraulic fluid leaking from the engine compartment onto a heated metal plate. The crane belonged to the New York Crane & Equipment Corporation, which has faced similar issues in the past. In 2008 there was a crane collapse in the Upper East Side that led to James F. Lomma, the founder of NY Crane & Equipment Corp., on trial for manslaughter along with 3 other charges in connection with the collapse. Lomma was ultimately acquitted of these charges.
Despite the unfortunate past of the crane company, the city records show that the crane that collapsed this Wednesday was built in 2009 and had all of the required certifications and licenses up to date. The incident is still being investigated by police and there is currently a stop work order occurring on the construction site.