Tralee Man Half A Block Away From New York Explosion

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The blaze from the rooftop of Ashley Raymond's apartment in the lower east side of Manhattan. Photo Ashley Raymond.

Ashley Raymond took this photo of the blaze from the rooftop of his apartment in the lower east side of Manhattan. Photo courtesy of Ashley Raymond

A TRALEE man was just half a block away from the explosion in New York yesterday when fire engulfed two buildings causing them to collapse.

There were 19 casualties in the incident – which is suspected to have been caused by a gas leak – four serious with one person reported missing.

Watching it all unfold was Tralee man, Ashley Raymond, who lives and works on the Manhattan street where it all happened.

Continued below…

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“I work half a block away and was talking to a friend of mine when we heard a boom,” said Ashley.

“Then all of a sudden there was fire truck after fire truck flying by. After two or three hours we had to close the bar where I work and evacuate people out of the apartments and find other places to stay for the night. Lots of people have said the smell reminds them of 9/11, I can only imagine how bad that was,” said Ashley.

Ashley is originally from Spa Road, but has been living and working as a barman in New York for the past eight years.

Ashley Raymond.

Ashley Raymond.

The fire took place on Thursday afternoon, just after 3pm New York time.

At one point the blaze was so intense, the Fire Department, had to withdraw from combating it.

“People are not really scared as the NYPD and Fire Department were on the scene really fast and took care of everybody that needed to be taken care of. Now, it’s just so, so, so smokey for two or three blocks and people have to evacuate their apartments as it will be dangerous to sleep with the amount of smoke in the apartments,” said Ashley.

Over 250 firefighters responded to the fire which engulfed four buildings which contained a total of 49 apartments.

“It really really could have been a lot worse, there could have been more fatalities. I work probably 300 or 400 metres from where the explosion happened so our street was closed off all day,” he said.

“Americans really do come together at a time of need and today just proved that,” Ashley said.

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