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1 killed, 8 injured in suspected Brooklyn gas blast

Firefighters work at the scene of an explosion

Firefighters work at the scene of an explosion at a three-story building in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

A woman was killed in an explosion and four-alarm fire Saturday that blew out the front of a three-story building in Brooklyn and may have been caused by a natural gas leak, New York City officials said.

Officials said that preliminarily, they suspected the blast occurred after an expensive stove was disconnected so that its owner, the second-floor tenant, could move it to a new home.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, speaking near the scene in Borough Park, said the victim, whom they did not identify, was found in a stairwell.

Councilman Brad Lander, a Democrat who represents the area, said the victim was a woman in her 60s who lived on the top floor. She had a daughter who is returning from the Dominican Republic, he said.

A 34-year-old father, his 9-year old son, and a 27-year-old man who were walking by the building at 13th Avenue near 42nd Street were hit by flying bricks and other debris and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said. The father's leg and ankle were fractured.

De Blasio said authorities were also trying to "confirm the whereabouts" of a person who was not described or identified.

Shiny Sadeq, 33, who heard the blast from his apartment nearby, described a massive fire.

"I saw it was collapsed; there was a lot of fire . . . the fire was blasting," he said.

The three-story building suffered "extreme damage, and another building suffered heavy damage," the mayor said. Other buildings were damaged by smoke.

The fire "is still smoldering but is under control," de Blasio said late Saturday, adding that more than 200 firefighters battled the blaze, with five suffering minor injuries.

All searches were suspended until Sunday because the building, whose first floor is occupied by the Pots N' Watts hardware store, could collapse.

Unlike a 2014 East Harlem natural gas explosion that killed eight people and was preceded by reports of possible gas leaks, officials said the first call about the Brooklyn building was the 911 call about the blast. First responders arrived in three minutes, officials said.

De Blasio said the city fire and police departments would conduct a full investigation.

Citing the East Harlem explosion and another gas blast in the East Village in March that killed two, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the Department of Public Service also will probe the Brooklyn blast.

"This explosion is the latest in a disturbing trend of incidents," he said.

De Blasio said the city "is always willing to work with other agencies."

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