A house cops suspected might be involved in weed cultivation exploded in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx exploded early Tuesday morning, killing one firefighter and injuring as many as 20 other people.
Firefighters responded to a 911 call over a suspected gas leak at the two-story home around 6:20 AM. Upon spotting what seemed to be grow house equipment in a brick rental property attached to the house, they called the NYPD. It was roughly 7:30 AM when that structure burst into flames, injuring nine firefighters, six cops, and five others, according to the Daily News. An FDNY battalion chief named Michael Fahy was killed after being hit by a piece of debris, making the 17-year veteran of the department its first casualty since 2014.
The property in question had already been under investigation for a few weeks after cops were tipped off, according to the New York Times. It's unclear if the explosion was linked to any drug-making activities or paraphernalia. It was felt blocks away and had left a pile of smoldering, the paper added.
Erin Mulvey, a special agent with the DEA, told the Wall Street Journal that grow houses are recipes for disaster––much meth labs in the 1990s. The combination of around-the-clock fluorescent lighting, shoddy electrical set-ups, and on-hand pesticides can be deadly. When the grow houses are making wax or dabs, butane is needed, which can make them extra dangerous.
"This all adds up to a ticking time bomb that can explode, especially if there's a gas link" Mulvey said.
A neighbor told the News the property was usually rented to college students in Manhattan, but that the current tenants drove expensive cars like BMWs. So far, the people living in the house have not been named, though the owner has denied any knowledge of a grow operation.
"We had a tragedy today," Mayor de Blasio said about Fahy, who was a father of three young children. "A tragedy has befallen a family, a fire department, and our entire city."
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