A towering construction crane caught fire high above the west side of Manhattan on Wednesday morning, then lost its long arm, which smashed against a nearby building, dangled and then plummeted to the street as people ran for their lives on the sidewalk below.
Four people suffered minor injuries, but no one died, according to New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
“As you can see from the debris on the street, this could have been much worse,” the Democrat said, noting that the street at that hour of the morning is often filled with pedestrians, cars and buses.
The fire atop the 54-story building was reported around 7:25 a.m. Photos and videos posted on social media showed flames bursting from the car of a crane hundreds of feet above 10th Avenue at 41st Street. The crane's arm, which was carrying a 16-ton load, snapped off after the fire had been burning for a period of time.
The person operating the crane tried to put out the fire as it spread, but then had to flee to safety, according to Fire Department First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer.
Firefighters stationed on a roof deck of another building used hoses to battle the blaze. Surrounding streets were closed to traffic.
The fire's cause was being investigated.
The location is near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and an entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, which carries auto traffic to and from New Jersey under the Hudson River.