Marijuana Grow House Blows Up Killing Fire Chief, Injuring 20 Others
By The Patch
THE BRONX, NY — One fire chief was killed and more than 20 others were injured when a possible marijuana grow house exploded in the Bronx’s Kingsbridge neighborhood early Tuesday morning during an investigation into a possible gas leak near West 234th Street and Tibbett Avenue, according to the Fire Department of the City of New York.
“It’s a very sad day for our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. “We had a tragedy today.”
The fireman who died has been identified as 17-year department veteran Michael Fahy, chief of the FDNY’s 19th Battalion and a father to three young children — two boys and a girl, ages 6, 8 and 11. He reportedly lived in Yonkers.
Also transported to nearby hospitals with minor injuries, according to fire officials: six officers with the New York City Police Department; two workers with the Con Edison gas company; three civilians; and nine other firefighters.
Fahy was “one of our rising stars,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said with tears in his eyes at a press conference Tuesday morning at the New York-Presbyterian branch at the northern tip of Manhattan, where Fahy had been declared dead hours earlier.
“We lost a hero today,” the commissioner said.
“It’s a terrible loss for the Fahy family,” Nigro, who knew Fahy’s father (also a fireman), told a crowd of reporters at the hospital. “It’s a loss for the fire department family. We are a family. We feel it deeply. We feel it deeply today.”
Firefighters arrived at 300 West 234th St. around 6:30 a.m. to investigate reports of a strong gas odor coming from the building, according to the FDNY.
Soon after, firefighters were joined by police officers, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said, who had been investigating that apartment as a possible marijuana grow house — based on, he said, “some preliminary information we received.” (O’Neill would not elaborate when pressed at the Tuesday morning press conference.)
The house exploded due to an apparent gas leak around 7:30 a.m., officials said — blowing pieces of its roof out onto the street and injuring a group of cops, firefighters and Con-Ed workers who were standing on the street.
Fahy “was struck on his head and other parts of his body” by the fallout, Nigro said.
No one was inside the building at the time of the blast, and nearby neighbors had been evacuated, he said.
De Blasio called Fahy “a very devoted father of three, a very devoted member of the FDNY and a good man.”
“We spent time with his wife and his parents here at the hospital, and saw the unspeakable pain when they were told formally they had lost Michael,” de Blasio said.
This marks the first on-duty death of an FDNY firefighter in two years, according to Nigro.
NYPD detectives were still at the cordoned-off scene of the blast Tuesday afternoon, investigating the cause of the apparent gas leak and looking into the tenants renting the apartment that exploded, according to the NYPD.