Many Accounts of Smelling Gas Before East Harlem Explosion, but No Calls Made, Say Officials

March 13, 2014 Updated: June 24, 2015

When a resident of the building adjacent to the two that collapsed in the East Harlem explosion Wednesday morning phoned Con Edison about smelling gas, he mentioned smelling it last night as well, said Con Edison CEO John McAvoy at a briefing noon Thursday

There are reports of people who lived along the block smelling gas for weeks, but authorities say no calls were made to report the possible gas leaks. 

Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Commissioner Sal Cassano said they checked back for gas odor related calls for 311 and 911 in the past 30 days and did not receive any from the area. Gas odor calls have since nearly doubled in the city, Cassano said.

New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton said they checked for 311 and 911 calls dating back to 2010 and did not find any, in a preliminary investigation.

McAvoy said they checked call logs dating back three years and there were two calls made–one in May 2013, and the other Jan. 26, 2011.

Con Edison also went back and looked at gas main reports for the block where the buildings collapsed over the last 10 years. There was a water service replacement in 2011, where Con Edison took the opportunity to replace 75 feet of pipe main, and a leak in 2004 that was repaired.

The National Transportation Security will be doing a full investigation that will last about a year, which includes going through Con Edison’s call logs to check for earlier reports of a gas leak.

Bratton added there were cameras on the street that caught the explosion and that will be used in investigations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said gas leaks are not treated as “business as usual,” and urged residents to report them “any hour, any day,” even if they only smell it for a few minutes.

Officials urge people to call 311 or 800-75-CONED to report possible gas leaks, which are treated as a high priority.