Renter Partially Blows Up Cockroach-Infested Chinatown Apartment House By Accident After Aerosol From Two Dozen Pesticide Foggers Ignites Gas, Blows Out Load-Bearing Wall; 60+ Residents Crammed Into Illegally Subdivided 'Deathtrap' Forced To Flee, Seek Red Cross Aid As NYC Officials Slap Structure Remains w/ Vacate Order
In the Chinatown section of New York City, the New York Post reports:
- Cockroaches were the least of the problems for a Chinatown building that was blown apart by “bug bomb” canisters this week, officials said.
“It’s a deathtrap in there,” an FDNY firefighter said of 17 Pike St., which went up in a fiery explosion, injuring at least nine people, [...].
An engineer called to investigate the five-story prewar structure described it as “a disaster” of illegal subdivides and fire hazards, and the Department of Buildings  issued a full vacate order and slapped owner Mary Shiu with violations.
At least nine people were injured in the blast, three critically.
DOB inspectors found illegal partitions that compromised exits on the second through fifth floor, along with “illegal plumbing work and gas lines.”
“There were inhumane living conditions,” said appalled structural engineer Gregory Georges. “There were a lot of violations. The apartments were subdivided. There were [illegal] SROs throughout the building. There were electric and gas lines everywhere.”
The building — which can legally house 18 families — was a maze of one-bedroom apartments split into four, the engineer said, with multiple sets of bunk beds in the rooms. Bathrooms had also been converted to bedrooms.
Part of the building collapsed after aerosol from two dozen flammable aerosol pesticide foggers set out by a resident ignited on a pilot light or appliance and blew out a load-bearing wall, officials said.
It will likely be a year before anyone can move back into the building, officials said.
It is unclear how many people were living there but The Red Cross has had 61 residents register for emergency assistance.
“I don’t know who is living here,” said co-owner Thomas Shiu. “I think there are a lot of illegal immigrants. We tell them it’s not allowed to put partitions in. Like the city, it is out of control.”