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Upper East Side apartments evacuated after crack found in load-bearing wall

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — An apartment building on the Upper East Side was evacuated Thursday after a crack was discovered in a load-bearing wall, FDNY said.

An exterior crack was found on a load-bearing wall at 300 E. 96th St., fire officials said.

Crews with the NYC Department of Buildings are on scene conducting structural stability inspections, a spokesman for the agency told PIX11 News.

Lara Wilson knew there was a problem in her Upper East Side apartment building, but says she never expected her landlord would have to move her and her boyfriend out of their sixth floor apartment Thursday afternoon – while they were at work – for their own safety.

The precaution was part of the emergency mandatory evacuation, that’s how serious the threat of collapse is, stemming from what is now a two-inch wide crack running from the roof, all the way down to the second floor.

“Today we looked out – you could see out to the streets. And now to see that it’s affecting the whole building is – scary,” Wilson said.

FDNY Manhattan Borough Commander Roger Sakowich says the FDNY was called in after the building’s management company, Walter-Samuels, placed electronic monitors on the crack.

“They showed movement. They showed an inch separation in twenty-four hours. So the wall is moving,” said Borough Commander Sakowich.

PIX11 News tried getting some answers from Norman Silver, a manager for Walter-Samuels, but he didn't respond to our questions about that crack, which several tenants say they first noticed a few months ago.

“There’s construction going on next door, and there’s construction going on, on top, where that scaffold is,” said Mike, a long time tenant.

It’s unclear what caused the widening wall crack, but the recent construction of the Second Avenue Subway – which is right across the street, along with the ongoing, often loud construction of not one, but two adjacent buildings - are all possible culprits.

However, for Lara Wilson, those are questions for another day.

Right now, she’s worried about Princess, her cat, and where they will be sleeping tonight.

“She has automatic food, which is good, the feeder will keep going," Wilson said. "I just hope she’s safe up there. They said we can get the cat, but I don’t know where we’re going to go, so I don’t know if I can bring her with."

No injuries have been reported, FDNY said. It's not known when residents will be able to return.

The American Red Cross was at the scene and provided emergency assistance, including relief supplies and emergency financial assistance to impacted families. Emergency housing was also provided for four families (five adults) from the building.

American Red Cross said they will continue to work with families throughout the day and over the weekend to provide needed support.