- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) An explosion rocked a 10-story commercial building yesterday, hurling glass and rubble across a city block and injuring 32 persons, 10 critically.
Authorities quickly ruled out terrorism; chemicals stored in the basement by a sign company were being investigated as the cause, said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.
Plumbers had been working on the boiler in the building at the time, but that did not appear to be the cause, investigators said.
The blast conjured memories of September 11 for some in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
"It was a giant boom a real giant boom," said Bill Beek, who lives a half-block away. "It sounded like an airplane crashing."
"First we thought it was a bomb," said Alex Vargas, 28, a student at Apex Technical School next door. "We all had to leave by the back stairs. People were yelling and screaming, 'Hurry up.'"
Victims were taken to the hospital with burns, severe head injuries and cuts after the 11:30 a.m. blast.
Windows along the block of West 19th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues were blown out, and several people were injured by flying glass.
The facade of the building was damaged and several walls were blown out, but it appeared to be structurally sound, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.


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