Firefighters responded within three minutes and were able to evacuate residents of surrounding buildings, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. As of early Saturday evening, a fire was under control but still smoldering.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the preliminary cause of the explosion had been traced to a stove exchange on the residential second floor of the mixed-use building. A resident was moving out and taking the stove, which requires disconnecting the gas line, officials said.
Fire officials said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether any laws had been violated relating to the way the stove was being handled.
The three-story structure sustained heavy damage, and authorities described bricks flying into the street from the force of the blast. While one nearby structure sustained heavy damage, others had smoke damage.
Forty-nine residents have been displaced as a result of the incident, according to New York City Emergency Management, after the Department of Buildings ordered 18 total units across five buildings to be evacuated. Additionally, gas and electric services have been cut to four of those buildings.
Five firefighters suffered minor injuries, in addition to the civilian casualty and injuries. The deceased person has been identified as Ligia Puello, 54, a third floor resident of the building. One person is still missing, according to authorities.
If it is verified to be a gas explosion, this is the latest in a string of deadly gas-related explosions in New York in the past few years. A 2014 fire leveled two buildings in Harlem, killing eight and injuring nearly 70 people. In March of this year, a blast destroyed two buildings in the East Village, leaving two dead and a dozen injured.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a state investigation into the incident, calling the recent trend of explosions "disturbing."
De Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to call 911 if they ever smell gas, and said that the FDNY would come to check.
"Better safe than sorry," he said.
No such call was made in today's incident, according to authorities.