A BUILDING on fire near New York University (NYU) has collapsed, and at least two people are critically injured, firefighters said.
Orange flames and black smoke billowed from the facade and roof of the five-storey building in Manhattan, near several NYU buildings and the Washington Square Park area. Flames were spreading to other buildings.
Investigators were looking into whether there had been a gas leak. There were some reports of an explosion before the fire.
The area is being evacuated, and other people are being evaluated at the scene.
Freelance photographer Michael Seto, who lives nearby, said he was having lunch when the explosion shook his apartment.
He grabbed his camera, ran outside and found a crowd gathering, looking at a brick tenement-style building with a restaurant on the first floor.
“By the second storey, the front part of the building, the facade, the first and second stories, it looked like, had collapsed into the street,” he said.
Rubble was on the pavement, and glass and debris had been flung across an avenue.
As Mr Seto ran up to the building, a fire was starting inside it.
“It spread very quickly and pretty much engulfed the first floor,” he said.
He saw one person lying on the ground, being attended to by two to three passers-by who were holding his head still. A woman was sitting on the curb with blood coming down her face, and another woman walked past him with blood on her face.
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