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A New York City building has collapsed and another is on fire after an apparent explosion in Manhattan’s East Village.

Emergency services are on the scene and say four people are critically injured, and 12 others were injured.

Flames and smoke pouring out of a five-floor building, and firefighters are spraying the building.

Officials are investigating whether a gas leak is to blame. There were reports of an explosion before the fire.

About 250 fire-fighters are on hand to battle the blaze.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Emergency services started received calls reporting the fire around 15:15 local time.

According to the New York Times, an explosion triggered the fire in one building, which quickly spread to another.

The area in Manhattan’s East Village – close to New York University – is being evacuated.

Firefighters began spraying the flames, but had to retreat after the flames became too intense, the local station reported, local news station WABC reported.

The station said that there are fears that the other building could collapse as well, and it’s not clear if anyone has been trapped in the building or rubble.

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A New York City house fire has killed seven children in Brooklyn, officials say.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the blaze started shortly after midnight and that those killed were all between 5 and 15 years old.

A woman believed to be the children’s mother and a teenager escaped by jumping out of second-floor windows.

Both survivors are in a critical condition in hospital, suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.Brooklyn house fire

Speaking at a press conference on March 21, Daniel Nigro said that the incident was the “largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years”.

“It’s a tragedy for this family, it’s a tragedy for this community, it’s a tragedy for the city,” he added.

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said that more than 100 fire-fighters had worked to bring the blaze under control.

The fire was believed to have been started by a malfunctioning hot plate in the kitchen.

Daniel Nigro said that the family had become trapped on the second floor when the fire reached the stairs, cutting off their escape.

“There was no evidence of smoke detectors on either the first or the second floor that may have alerted this family to the fire,” he said.

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Three retired FDNY firefighters who worked at Ground Zero have died on the same day from cancer.

According to experts, the illness might be connected to toxic World Trade Center dust released on September 11, fire officials said on September 25.

Lt. Howard Bischoff, 58, and firefighters Robert Leaver, 56, and Daniel Heglund, 58, died within hours of one another on September 22.

Their deaths are “a painful reminder that 13 years later we continue to pay a terrible price for the department’s heroic efforts,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

Thousands of people who aided in the rescue and recovery effort were diagnosed with respiratory ailments and other health problems in the years after the attacks. Cancer, though, remains the biggest fear for people exposed to the gritty soot at the site.

Hundreds of first responders have gotten cancer in the 13 years since the attacks, but doctors and researchers are still uncertain whether there is any link between those illnesses and 9/11. Cancer is the leading cause of death for Americans in their mid-40s to mid-60s, making it hard to tell which deaths, if any, might be related. Most medical studies have not found evidence of a substantial surge in cancer rates, though researchers have spotted some worrisome trends.

Congress has set aside $2.78 billion to compensate people with illnesses that might be related to the attacks. Administrators of the fund have included the most common types of cancer as qualifying illnesses.

Lt. Howard Bischoff, 58, and firefighters Daniel Heglund, 58, and Robert Leaver, 56, died within hours of one another on September 22

Lt. Howard Bischoff, 58, and firefighters Daniel Heglund, 58, and Robert Leaver, 56, died within hours of one another on September 22 (photo AP/FDNY)

“On that day when first responders arrived, the air was toxic and remained toxic for many months afterward,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

The Fire Department of New York lost 343 firefighters on 9/11. The department maintains a memorial to 89 other firefighters it believes died of illnesses. That tally doesn’t yet include Bischoff, Leaver or Heglund.

Their deaths come as advocates urge Congress to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides medical treatment and compensation to those who got sick from exposure to toxic air after September 11.

Fire officials knew the three were sick, said Jake Lemonda, whose union represents fire lieutenants, captains, battalion chiefs, deputy chiefs, medical officers and supervising fire marshals in the FDNY. One had leukemia, one had esophageal cancer and the third had colon cancer.

Funerals for Robert Leaver and Daniel Heglund were scheduled for September 26. The service for Robert Leaver will be held at Francis of Assisi Church in West Nyack at 10 a.m. Daniel Heglund’s funeral will be at the Centerport Volunteer Firehouse at 10:30 a.m.

A funeral for Howard Bischoff will be held at 11 a.m. on September 27 at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson, New Jersey.

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