An explosion that leveled a Brooklyn, New York, building on October 3, killing one woman, was at first blamed on a gas leak caused by removing a kitchen range, the Daily News reported (see: "Explosion at Brooklyn building that killed one woman may have been caused by tenants removing high-end stove: officials," by Dale W. Eisinger, Maria Villasenor, and Thomas Tracy). "FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the gas leak that triggered the deadly blast may have been caused when second-floor tenants of the 13th Ave. building near 42nd St. recently moved," the paper reported. "They took the stove, but apparently neglected to have the gas line turned off."
But a second look caused officials to change their assessment, the Daily News later reported (see: "FDNY officials: Fatal Brooklyn blast was NOT caused by natural gas leak," by Thomas Tracy and Rocco Parascandola). Reported the paper: "'The FDNY has “eliminated natural gas as a cause,' Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Thursday. 'Information obtained since (the explosion) and confirmed by examination of the building gas meters found that there was no natural gas flowing to the second floor apartment since June 26 — and that prior to the explosion no significant natural gas flow into any part of the building had occurred,' Nigro said." Instead, officials said, the explosion may have been a successful suicide attempt by a depressed woman, using chemicals obtained at a nearby hair salon.
A gas leak was not a far-fetched guess, however: Gas leaks have caused many explosions in the city before, the New York Times reported (see: "Gas Explosions That Have Rocked New York City," by David W. Dunlap). In a retrospective, the Times recounted a March 2015 explosion that killed two people in the city's East Village; a March 2014 East Harlem blast that killed eight people; an April 2009 blast in Queens that leveled a house and killed one woman, injuring six other people; and several other similar occurrences.
And it's not just New York. On October 2, a gas explosion blew out a 34th-floor wall in a newly built condo tower in the Miami-Dade city of Sunny Isles Beach, the Miami Herald reported (see: "Explosion at Sunny Isles Beach condo tower injures six," by Michael Vasquez, Rene Rodriguez, Nicholas Nehamas and Patricia Mazzei). "The likely cause of the explosion was a gas leak that had been contained by Friday afternoon, according to [Michelle Fayed, a Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department spokeswoman], though the area remained unsafe because of two large, dangling concrete slabs. The building’s general contractor disputed that there had been a leak," the paper reported. Completed just two months ago, the tower had only one resident when the explosion occurred, the paper reported. Coincidentally, Sunny Isles Beach mayor George “Bud” Scholl was walking to lunch a block away from the explosion, and looked up in time to see debris still falling from the structure, the paper reported.
City authorities have cited the building's developer and general contractor for safety violations in the explosion, the Herald reported (see: "Sunny Isles Beach condo tower cited after explosion injures 6," by Carli Teproff). The paper reported, "'The fuel was vented into a confined space with sources of ignition,' Sunny Isles Beach’s building inspector wrote in the citation issued to the Château Beach Residences Monday. 'Precautions were not taken to safely purge gas piping.' A complete report from the city’s building official about the explosion on the 34th floor that injured six people, including at least one worker and two firefighters, will not be available for about a week, said Sunny Isles Beach Mayor George 'Bud' Scholl." The city has also revoked the building's certificate of occupancy, pending repair work on the gaping hole and structural damage created by the blast.