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East Harlem explosion

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
March 12, 2014 2:22:15 PM PDT
So now the mantra is expanded. If you smell something, say something.

That's what folks in East Harlem did this morning, and they called ConEd. But by the time the utility crews made it to East 116th Street and Park Ave., just 15 minutes or so later, it was too late. A huge explosion leveled two buildings, injured dozens - and killed at least 2 women. Four others are seriously hurt - two of them with life-threatening injuries.

What if the fire department had been called first? Should it be the first on the scene of a gas leak, along with ConEd? I'm just sayin'.

Tonight, we're in East Harlem with the latest - on the victims, on what caused this, and on the scores of people who have lost a place to live.

We'll also have the latest on the chaos the explosion caused for Metro North, as the railroad scrambled to get back on track. (Its tracks to Grand Central were across the street from the buildings, and littered with debris.)

One more item about the scene there today - perhaps you saw that little drone flying around the fire scene. It did NOT belong to any government agency, it was operated by some random guy. Was he taking pictures, hoping to sell them? Dunno. But we do know that news helicopters were told to stay a certain distance away. So why not those drones? It's a hotly debated issue in the aviation community.

Right now, these drones are not regulated like, say, choppers. They fall under regulations for "model aircraft hobbyists," but when we were on the air today, we could clearly see this drone buzzing the firefighters, and oh-so-close to the action. It's a fascinating debate. More to come.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with the big change coming in our spectacular (at least for today) weather, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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