Firefighters responded to the house near the corner of Tibbett Avenue in Kingsbridge after someone in the neighborhood reported what they thought was a gas leak around 6:20 a.m. But when firefighters entered the house, they found what appeared to be a homemade drug laboratory inside a dark room, and immediately requested police, according to sources.
Firefighters opened up windows in the home after hearing a hissing noise on the property, suggesting there had been a break in the gas line, the area also smelled heavily of gas according to law enforcement sources.
Emergency responders were waiting outside for a Con Ed crew to arrive after they evacuated the house when it blew up, sending a large piece of the roof flying into the air and landing on Battalion Chief Michael Fahy of Battalion 19, a 17-year member of the FDNY.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said his department had recently initiated an investigation into a possible “marijuana grow house” on the block where the explosion occurred. No arrests have been made.
The cause of the explosion — on a block of brick row houses just over a mile from the northernmost tip of Manhattan — is under investigation.
Battalion Chief Michael Fahy leaves behind his wife Fiona, his sons Michael, 11, and Cormac, 6, and his daughter Anna Elisabeth, 8.
Overall 140 first responders were sent to the horrific scene to assist. No other injuries were reported to be life threatening.