Chinatown blast tied to exploding bug cans

Firefighters and police gather at the scene of Firefighters and police gather at the scene of a possible gas explosion and fire that partially collapsed a building in Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood. (July 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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FDNY officials have determined that exploding cans of bug defogger caused a fire and the partial collapse of a Chinatown building on Thursday.

Fire marshals believe that the insecticide containers, which release a fog of chemicals to kill insects, were ignited by an appliance in a kitchen on the lower floors of the building at 17 Pike St., a spokesman for the FDNY and media reports said Friday.

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The building suffered fire damage and the internal collapse of at least one floor. The external walls of the five-story, multiple-use structure remained intact.

City officials also said Friday that inspectors found the building had illegal partitions that blocked some possible exits on floors two through five. There was also evidence that illegal plumbing and gas work had been performed at the location, said a spokesman for the city Department of Buildings. The spokesman said violations were issued to the building owner for the illegal partitions and the other work, adding that the building was ordered vacated.

Four firefighters and eight civilians were injured in the fire, mostly from burns and smoke inhalation, officials said. The firefighters were all treated and released on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the FDNY said. However, the status of the three civilians who were more seriously injured wasn't available late Friday, the spokeswoman said.

Officials said fire marshals have not said how the defoggers, which are often used on extermination jobs, ignited.

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