Five hundred people have been displaced and a large stretch of Fifth Avenue remains shut down in the Flatiron district.
Forty nine buildings had to be evacuated on Thursday after a steam pipe explosion and positive tests for asbestos.
“The air cleared fairly quickly after the incident. So the air in this area now is safe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Forty four of the impacted buildings remain off-limits on Friday. That’s because many of the buildings in the so-called “hot zone” must be examined for possible asbestos. Those covered in debris after the blast were told to take a shower and turn over their clothes.
"We heard that explosion, looked out the window and it looked like the Earth had opened up," one witness told WOR's Alice Stockton-Rossini.
The man reported that he got electricity back on Thursday night but still didn't have water. Several businesses in the area remain closed.
"Nobody could go in," one worker said.
The 86-year old steam pipe exploded around 6:30 in the morning, creating a large crater in the middle of Fifth Avenue near 21st Street. A large plume of smoke was billowing for hours.
“Fifth Avenue between 19th and 22nd Street is closed off to traffic now. That will continue to be closed off most likely for the next few days,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Photo Credit: Alice Stockton-Rossini