Gas explosion at Upper West Side Equinox gym prompts evacuations

UPPER WEST SIDE — Fire department officials say a gas explosion blew out the first-floor windows of a health club in Manhattan.

The New York City fire department said no one was injured from the blast Sunday around 4 p.m. at the Equinox gym, located on West 92nd Street and Broadway, on the Upper West Side.

"I was in my art studio doing like comic book, superhero stuff and then 'bang' this explosion happened—it's like right outside of my comic," Graig Welch, who works on the Upper West Side, said. "It's crazy and it's real life and it really affected everybody."

Firefighters had initially responded to a report of a smoking transformer underground when they discovered a gas leak. They evacuated about 90 people from the gym—15 of them from a residential building—and also blocked off traffic from the area before the explosion occurred.

"No one was injured due to us recognizing the potential and evacuating the people from all of the buildings," John Hodgens, Assistant Chief of the FDNY said Monday morning.

Con Edison responded to the scene to shut off gas lines and investigate the cause of the explosion.

"Gas is a very dangerous substance and any spark caused by many things," Hodgens said. "Something as little as a telephone ringing or a light switch being turned on can trigger an explosion."

Traffic lanes on the southbound side of Broadway were reopened shortly after 7 a.m. Monday.

An investigation into the condition of the building and cause of the explosion remains ongoing, according to officials with the NYC Department of Buildings.

Officials with the department responded to the scene Sunday night, and have since observed physical damage, including to a concrete masonry wall separating an exercise room and meter room in the building's cellar, as well as damage to electrical wiring and gas plumbing systems.

However, they say the building is not in danger of collapse and it does not currently pose a potential hazard to the public.