Crane arm catches fire, collapses onto street in Hell’s Kitchen

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By Alice Gainer

/ CBS New York

12 injured in partial crane collapse in Manhattan

12 injured in partial crane collapse in Manhattan 02:50

NEW YORK — A crane went up in flames Wednesday morning high above Manhattan, then partially collapsed onto the street below.

The fire broke out shortly before 7:30 a.m. 45 stories up in the air at a building that was under construction on 10th Avenue between West 41st and 42nd streets in Hell’s Kitchen.

Watch: Video shows moment crane came crashing down   

Dramatic video: Moment crane partially collapses in NYC 00:19

Social media video captured the dramatic scene when the crane’s boom came down, smashing into a building across the street. 

Twelve people were hurt, including three firefighters. All of the injuries were described as non-life-threatening.

The Department of Buildings said Wednesday afternoon that, following a preliminary inspection, the crane, building under construction and neighboring building that was struck are all structurally stable and not in danger of collapse.  

The FDNY said the fire started in the engine compartment. The crane operator tried to put it out with hand extinguishers, but it became too overwhelming, and he had to exit the crane. 

The FDNY got the call around 7:25 a.m. and as firefighters responded, the partial collapse happened, and the building strike. 

Watch: Mayor Adams, FDNY and DOB update

Mayor Adams, FDNY give update on Manhattan crane collapse 10:00

Mayor Eric Adams provided an update on the scene, along with the FDNY and Department of Buildings, saying the situation could have been a lot worse, especially considering the high-traffic area.

“We are extremely fortunate that we were not during the busy time of day,” Adams said. “As you know, Port Authority is here, many of the buses move through here.” 

Watch: Extended coverage of Chopper 2 overhead

Extended coverage: Crane arm catches fire, collapses in Manhattan 23:22

First Deputy Commissioner Joseph W. Pfeifer said the crane was lifting 16 tons of concrete when the fire started.

“There’s a beam that goes out, and that’s carrying the weight of concrete. And that weight of 16 tons is attached by a cable. As the fire heats the cable, the cable weakens to a point where it loses its strength, and that’s when the collapse occurred,” he explained.  

Watch: Expert on fighting rooftop construction fire

Expert analysis: Crane fire challenges at NYC construction site 06:51

Pfeifer credited the crane operator for spotting the fire and trying to put it out.

“That crane operator saw that the fire started and tried to extinguish it. So we give a lot of credit to the crane operator. But the fire overwhelmed that operator and had to exit the crane,” he said. “The crane operator was able to get out and is safe.”

FDNY units are currently operating at a crane collapse and fire at 550 Tenth Avenue in Manhattan. Please avoid the area of 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue from West 41 Street to West 42 Street. Please use alternate routes and expect traffic in the area.

— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) July 26, 2023

As they closed off the streets, firefighters had the difficult task of fighting the fire high above. 

“The difficulty when you have a fire so high up is to be able to supply water to the building and stretch hose lines from inside the building and across the street,” Pfeifer said. 

The site of the fire, 550 10th Avenue, is currently under construction. It’s a mixed-use residential building around 47 stories high.

“We will look at the structural integrity of the building that was hit, the structural integrity of the building worked on,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner James Oddo.

ADVISORY: In regard to the crane collapse in Manhattan this morning, the following streets are currently closed.

10 Avenue – CLOSED between West 39 Street- West 42 Street

West 40 Street- CLOSED in both diections between Dyre Ave- Galvin Ave

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 26, 2023

The DOB says an independent assessment will be conducted to figure out what happened. They have issued a stop work order at the tower project. 

More than 200 fire and EMS personnel assisted. 

The fire went to five alarms as they searched and evacuated nearby buildings. 

Drivers are urged to avoid the area. Tenth Avenue is closed from 39th-42nd Streets. West 30th Streets is closed in both directions between Dyre and Galvin Avenues. 

Alice Gainer


Alice Gainer joined CBS2 as a reporter and anchor in January 2013. She covers breaking, feature and general assignment stories.

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