No injuries were discovered among debris following the collapse of a Bronx apartment building: FDNY

After a corner of a Bronx apartment building collapsed on Monday, leaving flats exposed like a stack of bookshelves and a convenience store partially buried by bricks and wood, firefighters said they did not discover anyone trapped in a massive mound of wreckage.

Around 3:30 p.m., a six-story occupied building at 1915 Billingsley Terrace collapsed.

The fire department posted on social media late on Monday night that firefighters had been searching a pile of rubble that was 12 feet high in some places for hours. Two persons were slightly hurt while leaving the destroyed structure, but no victims were discovered, according to the department.

Julian Rodriguez, a worker at a local deli, claimed to have heard people yelling about a building collapsing while he was behind the counter.

“When I went outside, all you could see is the debris and a smoke cloud in the street,” Rodriguez, who is 22, said. “And everything within the building was visible, including people’s beds, closets, doors, and lighting. It was quite terrifying.”

People can be seen racing down the street from the growing cloud of smoke and dust that the collapse was kicking up in surveillance footage that Eyewitness News was able to capture.

Shortly after the building collapsed, a pile of debris spilled into the street from the corner, with its floors sinking and its walls torn off. This was captured on camera by the Citizen App.

Those watching from the street had a view into the apartments. In one, there was art visible on the wall; in another, there was a bed just feet from the edge of a floor that suddenly protruded into the air. In another area, a couch was perched on a floor that slants dangerously downward, resembling the lid of a wedged-in box. A picture of a person who seemed like a service man was hanging on a wall.

Firefighters swiftly evacuated everyone from the partially fallen building, which houses 47 residential units and six companies, after arriving on the site in two minutes, according to officials.

At 5:00 p.m., FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said Eyewitness News that the active search would go on for as long as it was needed to find anyone who might be trapped. According to Kavanagh, the academy uses a rubble pile to educate firefighters for scenarios similar to this.

A robotic dog ventured inside the wreckage, while a search dog combed through the pile that had twisted and jumbled metal, seemingly from scaffolding.

When the scaffolding collapsed, firefighters removed debris in buckets and used circular saws to cut through it; an excavator then scraped through the debris.

“As safely as we can, we’re tunneling into that debris pile,” FDNY Chief John Hodgens declared. Currently, firefighters are in a hazardous situation. What caused this building’s corner to collapse is unknown to us. It’s uncertain whether any of it will collapse.

No victims were found during searches of the nearby buildings at 178 and 182 West Burnside Avenue. Officials stated that teams will keep looking under the debris for any victims until they either discovered someone or were certain that nobody was there.

A service center located at a public school up the block was directed to some of the approximately 138 residents who were displaced by the collapse and helped by the Red Cross in 37 houses.

Following the search, the Department of Buildings will enter to look at and assess the stability of the building.

In the past two years, 178 complaints have been filed with the Housing Preservation and Development, and 103 open violations dating back to May 2019 have been documented.

The building’s owner filed their most current report in March 2021, according to Department of Buildings Commissioner James Oddo. That report discovered seven open violations, including “unsafe facade conditions.”

Records from the Buildings Department indicate that during an examination in 2020, the building’s facade had loose, broken mortar and cracked brick. Although Oddo stated on Monday that work had begun, he didn’t think any employees were present when the structure collapsed.

At the press conference, he stated, “I want to be clear: Unsafe facade conditions is not the same as an unsafe building.” He claimed that although there were seven unresolved problems on the property, they weren’t structural. Two of these were DOB violations, and the other five were Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and Environmental Control Board (ECB) infractions.

As recently as a few days ago, he said, work was being done on the building.

The commute was also affected by the partial building collapse.

For a short while, service on the Metro North Hudson line between Grand Central and Spuyten Duyvil was discontinued in both directions. The Bx40 and Bx42 bus lines were rerouted. The MyMTA app and website provide customers with access to the most recent service information.