A large part of Hell’s Kitchen is cordoned off this morning after a crane caught fire above the construction site at 550 10th Avenue and the headquarters of Covenant House at 7:25am. The area around 10th Avenue from W43rd Street down to W39th Street around the Lincoln Tunnel is closed off as firefighters tackle the blaze, which has been escalated to a five-alarm incident.
It is reported that two firefighters and four civilians suffered non-life-threatening injuries from falling debris when the crane’s boom and its 16-ton load collapsed into 10th Avenue between W40th and W41st Street. “As you see from the debris on the street, this could have been much worse,” said Mayor Eric Adams at a hastily arranged press conference at the site of the incident.
The structure struck the top of luxury apartment building 555TEN on the way down. Fire crews appeared to be taking water from the rooftop swimming pool at 555TEN to spray across 10th Avenue. At the peak of the fire, 200 firefighters and EMS personnel were in attendance.
First Deputy Fire Commissioner Joe Pfeifer told the press conference that the incident occurred above the roofline in the engine compartment: “A crane operator was operating the crane, lifting 16 tons of concrete, when he saw the fire and tried to extinguish it. So we give a lot of credit to the crane operator, but the fire overwhelmed the operator and he had to exit the crane.” The NY Crane operator is unhurt. “Why we’re so lucky is not only the boom falling to the street, but all of that concrete could have struck civilians,” added Chief Pfeifer.
Michael William G, who lives across 10th Avenue from the fire, said that he and his partner “were getting ready and heard a collective scream. Then a loud crashing sound. We looked out our window and saw people running.”
The 47-story residential skyscraper at 550 10th Avenue is being developed by Gotham Organisation, with amenities including an upper-level lounge and adjacent outdoor sky deck with views of the Empire State Building, Hudson Yards and sunsets over the Hudson River.
Nearby buildings, including 555TEN, YOTEL, The Victory, 500 W42nd Street and MiMa, were evacuated out of fear of a collapse of the remaining support structure of the crane. NYPD is advising that people use alternate routes to avoid the area. M11 and M42 buses are detoured in both directions. Video from New Jersey showed long lines of buses backed up and waiting to come through the Lincoln Tunnel.
Officials report that 120 residents of Covenant House youth shelter next to the construction site have been evacuated too.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.