(New York Post)
A construction crane dangling 45 stories above the street burst into flames and partially collapsed onto a nearby high-rise Wednesday morning in a wild scene that injured six people and sent panicked New Yorkers scrambling for safety.
A crane operator was in the cabin working on lifting 16 tons of concrete at 550 Tenth Ave. when a fire erupted in the engine compartment around 7:30 a.m. He tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher but had to flee for his life when the blaze spread, said FDNY First Deputy Fire Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer.
The top portion of the massive crane then collapsed, striking a building across the street at 555 Tenth Ave. before crashing to the street below, dramatic footage shows.
“All I heard was a loud boom,” construction worker Max Montanez told The Post.
“It shook the building. We just all started running down the stairs. Guys [were] getting stampeded on. It was bad.”
Another worker told Pix 11 “it was “the loudest sound I’ve ever heard.”
The injured included two firefighters — one hospitalized with chest pains — and four other people who were hit by falling debris, according to authorities. All injuries were minor.
The crane was working on an under-construction 54-story building near Hudson Yards between West 41st and West 42nd streets when the fire broke out, officials said.
“I saw the fire. It was blazing,” Paul Lo, who was visiting from California and was staying at the nearby Yotel Hotel, said after the mishap.
“You could see the flame from even from 42nd and 9th,” he said. “There was black smoke. The fire department was quite far or maybe it was the water pressure. They didn’t get it at first.”
One Twitter user on Wednesday said the fiery burst “sounded like lighting or an explosion” from the top of the crane.
Mayor Eric Adams later visited the scene.
“You see the debris on the street, this could have been much worse. We were fortunate that this was not a busy time of day,” he told reporters.
“We’re also fortunate that first responders responded in such a manner and made the right evaluation of how to look at the fire and crisis we were presented with and came up with [the right solution],” Adams said.
Over 200 FDNY personnel were on the scene, Pfeifer said.
“This could have been a lot worse,” he noted.
The cause of the fire was not clear.
“Welcome to New York,” witness Heidi Elmore tweeted, along with a video of the FDNY response. “Crane next to my hotel is on fire and collapsing so we had to evacuate.”
The NYPD urged New Yorkers to avoid the area.
“Please use alternate routes and expect traffic in the area,” the agency wrote.
Gov. Kathy Hochul later issued a statement about the collapse.
“Just a reminder of the incredible challenges that the men and women building back our city face,” she said. “It’s just a reminder of the dangers that so many people are willing to put themselves through and we are the beneficiaries, we the citizens of this great state and city.”
On the side of the crane was emblazoned the name of Lomma Crane company, which was owned by the late James F. Lomma before he died in 2019.
He was acquitted of manslaughter and three other charges in connection with the deadly collapse of a crane on the Upper East Side in 2008.
Two workers were killed when a bearing cracked on a construction project, causing the heavy machinery to collapse.
In 2016, a 600-foot-tall construction crane came crashing down onto buildings, pedestrians and parked cars in downtown Manhattan, killing a Harvard-trained mathematician on his way to work and injuring three other people.