Boom Crane Catches Fire, Collapses at 10th Avenue Development in Hudson Yards

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A massive boom crane caught fire and collapsed Wednesday morning while lifting 16 tons of concrete at a high-rise construction site at West 41st Street and 10th Avenue in Hudson Yards.

The crane operator was in the engine compartment of the crane, which was above the roof of the 47-story 550 Fifth Avenue when it caught fire, according to Joseph Pfeifer, the first deputy commissioner at the New York City Fire Department. The crane operator managed to extricate himself during the fire and escape safely.

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The fire weakened the cable of the crane, causing the boom to collapse and hit a neighboring building, the 53-story, 600-unit 551 Tenth Avenue, FDNY said. Firefighters evacuated the surrounding buildings.

Five people were injured, including construction workers, and a firefighter was taken to the hospital with chest pains, Fire Department officials said Wednesday morning during a press conference. Firefighters  extinguished the five-alarm blaze in the cab of the crane using hoses and hand extinguishers from an adjacent building.

The fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. at 550 Tenth, an under-construction 453-unit residential building with affordable units and retail that fronts the entire block between West 40th and West 41st streets.

crane collapse GettyImages 1556635655 WEB Boom Crane Catches Fire, Collapses at 10th Avenue Development in Hudson Yards
Firefighters inspect a construction crane fire and collapse on July 26, 2023. PHOTO: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Gotham Organization and Goldman Sachs Asset Management are jointly co-developing the building, where Monadnock Construction is the general contractor.

James Oddo, the commissioner of the Department of Buildings, said the agency was investigating the crane operator, the crane owner, the general contractor and the engineers involved in the crane lift. There was a prior unrelated incident at the site when workers hit a Consolidated Edison vault, according to Oddo.

In 2008, the crane operator, Lomma Crane Company, was involved in one of the city’s highest-profile crane collapses, which occurred at 91st Street and First Avenue. Owner James F. Lomma was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the case, which resulted in a $96 million jury verdict for the families of the crane operators killed in the collapse, the New York Post reported.

A crane also collapsed because of high winds in the Financial District in 2016, killing one person and injuring several others.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com.