( AP ) - An explosion at a Harlem apartment building Saturday hurt 17 people, including four children and a firefighter and spewed pieces of the building out onto the street, officials said.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said a gas leak apparently caused the explosion, although the local utility said it had no evidence of a leak.
The injured included four children, one critically, and one infant, Mr. Scoppetta said. A firefighter was hurt when debris fell on him when he entered the first floor of the five-storey building, Mr. Scoppetta said.
Residents said they heard the explosion blocks away and screams coming from the 20-unit building just after 4 p.m. Witnesses said the explosion blew out some of the building's walls.
Firefighters tossed pieces of drywall in a pile outside the building, while the injured were treated in stretchers on the street.
The explosion started in a rear apartment on the first floor, Mr. Scoppetta said.
"It does appear to be a gas leak explosion that then causes a flash fire," Mr. Scoppetta said.
D. Joy Faber, a spokeswoman for Consolidated Edison, said officials at the scene found no evidence of a leak.
The apartment building and buildings on either side of it were evacuated.