(NEW YORK) — A veteran firefighter was killed and multiple people were injured in an explosion and fire at a house in New York City Tuesday that contained evidence of a possible drug lab inside, according to the New York City Fire Department.
FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy and other local authorities originally responded to the home early this morning after a caller reported a gas odor, Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro said at a news conference Tuesday.
When fire officials and police knocked on the door of the home, someone exited the single-family house, which then exploded and subsequently caught on fire, a law enforcement source briefed on the case told ABC News Tuesday.
A large piece of debris from the house’s roof struck Fahy in the head, and more than a dozen other people on the street were injured, Nigro said. Fahy and those injured were transported to a local New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where Fahy succumbed to his injuries and died.
“We lost a hero today and our members are all saddened,” Nigro said Tuesday. He added that Fahy and responders were able to evacuate the surrounding area before the explosion.
The New York City Police Department had been in the initial stages of investigating the home as a possible marijuana grow house at the time of the explosion, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at the news conference.
Trained eyes saw remnants of the alleged marijuana growing operation in the wreckage Tuesday, and the house was most likely being rented by a local area distribution crew, according to the law enforcement source briefed on the case.
The source added that ConEd had turned off gas to the home when officials initially responded to the report of odor.
Investigators are now apparently looking at possible alternate gas sources, including butane hash oil production, as they also search for the person who exited the home prior to the explosion, the law enforcement source said.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that it is investigating, alongside local New York City authorities, to determine whether the blast was possibly connected to the alleged marijuana growing operation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all flags in the city to fly at half-staff Tuesday in memory of Fahy, a 17-year veteran of the FDNY and a father of three.
Tuesday was “a very sad day for our city,” de Blasio said at the news conference.
The mayor added that Fahy “made the ultimate sacrifice to this city,” and that his loss was “a reminder of the dangers that our first responders face every day, the dangers that the men and women of the FDNY face and the bravery with which they do their job.”
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