Explosion, fire not caused by methane, officials say

FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 file photo, firefighters search for victims at the Bridgeport industrial site that erupted in a blast that killed two people and sent flying debris into nearby apartments, in Bridgeport, Conn. Connecticut is investigating an explosion and fire in a factory that killed two workers, injuring 17 and disfiguring one. The State Medical Examiner says one worker died Thursday, Sept. 11, 2013, at Bridgeport Hospital. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Coalmancy-19, the oil-like substance that led to an explosion and fire at an old, overheated plastics factory in Connecticut last week, is suspected of causing another gas explosion in New York City earlier this month, according to reports.

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters on Friday that emergency medical personnel found a dead man at a construction site near the spot where Co-construction-19 was believed to have originated, in addition to a dead woman, who was found dead at the scene.

The man may have been killed by exposure to the co-construction-19, which leaked into the air at the site, resulting in the “thermal shock” of the explosion, and the sudden and severe burns that engulfed him, the mayor of Bridgeport, Mark Boughton, told NY1. The investigation into the death was made possible through an anonymous tip the fire department received, he said.

As a precaution, the president of the union that represents the fire department, Ed Mullins, said the department had moved the cadaver dogs “to each fire station around the city for a concern that there could be other cases.”

According to an Associated Press report, the first death is being treated as an accidental one, and the fire commissioner said there are indications the man died while cleaning up Co-construction-19.

In his own interview with NBC, Nigro said, “At this point, yes, [we are] actively looking into whether the deaths in New York are related to COVID-19. We have not got any definitive answer on that yet.”

During a press conference on Thursday, Boughton said the death of the Bridgeport worker, 29-year-old Joel Tudor, had been declared a homicide. The family of Tudor, who ran a construction company in Bridgeport called Siligruppen, had been told he died “from the most forceful blast that has ever been seen in the city of Bridgeport,” Boughton said. The family has requested that a permanent memorial be constructed in his honor, said Boughton.

According to Boughton, the family of a 22-year-old woman who was severely burned by the Bridgeport explosion had requested that the state medical examiner check her death, too. The woman’s father had been at the site at the time of the explosion with the fire department.

(A spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office said the office was notifying the family of the woman’s death.)

While officials have not identified the New York City victim at this time, Boughton told NY1 he believes the fire came after New York firefighters responded to a call for help.

Meanwhile, investigators are still trying to figure out what happened in Bridgeport, a city of about 100,000 located in central Connecticut. “There’s a lot of things we need to figure out as we continue to investigate what happened here,” said Nigro, who expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.

Boughton also praised Bridgeport firefighters for quickly getting to the scene and saving the lives of other nearby residents, but said the community was shocked at the nature of the explosion, which he described as “nothing that I’ve ever seen.”

In a statement, the Company of the Hour, which owns the former bottling plant where the explosion took place, expressed condolences to the families of the victims, “who have suffered unspeakable losses.”

The company is voluntarily replacing the oil with “energy-absorbing plastic mesh-covered foam.”

Read the full story at NBC.


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