NATIONAL NEWS

Pedestrians scatter as fire causes New York construction crane’s arm to collapse and crash to street

Jul 26, 2023, 5:36 AM | Updated: 11:34 am

Emergency responders battle flames as a large construction crane caught fire in Manhattan on Wednes...

Emergency responders battle flames as a large construction crane caught fire in Manhattan on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in New York. (WABC via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(WABC via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — A towering construction crane caught fire high above the West Side of Manhattan on Wednesday morning, causing its long arm to snap off, smash against a nearby building and plummet to the street as people ran for their lives on the sidewalk below.

Four people suffered minor injuries in the collapse, but no one died, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

“As you can see from the debris on the street, this could have been much worse,” the Democrat said at a news conference, noting that the street at that hour of the morning is often filled with pedestrians, cars and buses.

The crane was operating 45 stories up when its engine compartment caught fire at around 7:25 a.m., authorities said. Photos and videos on social media show flames bursting from the crane hundreds of feet above 10th Avenue at 41st Street. The crane’s arm, which was carrying a 16-ton load of concrete, dangled before breaking off.

“That weight of 16 tons is attached by a cable,” said Joseph Pfeifer, first deputy commissioner for the Fire Department of New York. “As the fire heats the cable, the cable weakens to a point where it loses its strength, and that’s where the collapse occurred.”

The person operating the crane tried to put out the fire as it spread but had to flee to safety, Pfeifer said.

A worker at a nearby construction site said everyone stopped and watched as flames engulfed the top of the crane and a column of black smoke rose above buildings. Within a few minutes, firefighters were shooting water down at the blaze from a balcony of an adjacent building.

“I never seen anything like that,” said Charles Pescatore, 18, a college helper on a construction site a few blocks away. “It could have killed a bunch of people.”

The cause of the fire is being investigated. Authorities said they also planned to investigate the structural integrity of the residential tower, which is under construction and expected to rise to 54 stories.

In addition to the four injuries from the collapse, two firefighters experienced heat exhaustion and chest pains.

The crane is owned by the New York Crane & Equipment Corp., one of the city’s most widely used crane providers, officials said. The Queens-based company has been involved in other crane problems in recent years, leading to criminal charges and new safety measures around New York City’s crane operations.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

In May of 2008, a collapse of the company’s tower crane killed two workers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The company and its owner, James Lomma, were acquitted of manslaughter and other charges; a mechanic pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

It was one of two deadly crane accidents in 2008, leading to the resignation of the city’s buildings commissioner, as well as new safety measures around testing and oversight of crane operations.

Five years later, a crane owned by the company left a concrete cube dangling above a bustling pedestrian area for several hours, shutting down a major thoroughfare in Midtown Manhattan.

Delecia McInnis, a Long Island resident who saw the crane come down Wednesday, said she was surprised no one was seriously injured.

“There’s so many things going on at 7 o’clock in the city, people are going to school, summer camp, there’s always someone around in this area,” she said.

The location is near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and an entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, which carries auto traffic to and from New Jersey under the Hudson River. Streets surrounding the site were closed to traffic Wednesday morning.

___

This story has been corrected to change the spelling of witness Delecia McInnis’ first name from Delicia, which is incorrect.

Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.

National News

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at claims made at the Republican National Convention as Trump accepts nomination

As former President Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday he laid out his vision for running the country. He painted a dire picture of the state of the U.S. and outlined a range of actions he planned to take. But his comments were marked with a myriad of false and misleading information […]

4 hours ago

Dr. Max Rogers, the obstetrician-gynecologist at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital, poses for a photo Mo...

Associated Press

Alabama birthing units are closing to save money and get funding. Some say babies are at risk

GROVE HILL, Ala. (AP) — One of the last remaining birthing units in southern Alabama will close next month to qualify for federal funding that will save the hospital’s emergency services, but doctors warn the move may cost newborns and pregnant women essential access to obstetric care. Nestled in rural Clarke County, the small, nonprofit […]

5 hours ago

Jim, left, and Tamara Hamilton watch former President Donald Trump speak on television on Thursday,...

Associated Press

Some GOP voters welcome Trump’s somewhat softened tone at Republican National Convention

For those conservative voters long turned off by former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, his somewhat softened tone in accepting the Republican nomination Thursday night was a welcome relief. “He’s much improved,” Dave Struthers, a 57-year-old farmer from Collins, Iowa, said as he watched Trump’s speech in the basement of his farmhouse. “The thing I’ve had […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Former President Barack Obama speaks in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2023. Democrats at the high...

Associated Press

Obama’s dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ worry about Biden and maintaining influence with president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama has a delicate balance to strike: how to weigh the mounting opposition to President Joe Biden continuing his campaign with his loyalty to his former running mate. In recent days, Obama has taken calls from congressional leaders, Democratic governors and key donors in which he has shared their […]

6 hours ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Town Hall, Sat...

Associated Press

Majority of Democrats think Kamala Harris would make a good president, AP-NORC poll shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden faces a growing drumbeat of pressure to drop his reelection bid, a majority of Democrats think his vice president would make a good president herself. A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Kamala Harris would do […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

How bootcamps are helping to address the historic gap in internet access on US tribal lands

There’s a home movie theater with orange walls and plush recliners at the top of a steep hill on Matthew Rantanen’s ranch in Southern California. But on a recent afternoon, people weren’t flocking to the room to watch a movie or to escape the scorching heat, they were shining a beam of light through more […]

6 hours ago

Pedestrians scatter as fire causes New York construction crane’s arm to collapse and crash to street