Around 3.40pm local time, a section of the six-storey building, located 1915 Billingsley Terrace in the west of the borough, fell to the sidewalk, exposing several apartments.
Footage from the scene showed immense damage to the lower floors of the building, with entire apartments angled down toward the street. The majority of the building appears to remain intact.
Fire fighters were reportedly working by hand to search the rubble. K-9 units have also been deployed to assist with the search.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh wrote on X that there have been no reports of injuries but that members of the FDNY were searching for any people trapped. Ms Kavanaugh said authorities were “deeply concerned” that civilians may have been trapped during the collapse.
In regards to the partial building collapse at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, the @FDNY is focused on life. We have no report of injuries at this time but our members, including our K-9 team, are looking for any people trapped. pic.twitter.com/USXndfRwlx
— Commissioner Laura Kavanagh (@FDNYFC) December 11, 2023
“We hope and pray that everyone escaped but until we know for certain, our @fdny members will continue their search,” she wrote on Monday evening.
Speaking to CBS News, earlier Ms Kavanaugh said: “We will presume, with an occupied building, that there could be someone there until we eliminate that possibility.”
Per the Pix11 outlet, she added: “We have our firefighters literally working by hand to uncover that pile. We have our dogs searching on the pile to help us find hits, and we have EMS and paramedics standing at the ready to pull anybody out.
“We don’t know for sure anybody is under there, but we always operate under the assumption in an occupied building like this one that there could be until we eliminate that possibility.”
Ms Kavanagh said that the cause of the collapse was not currently known, but that it would be part of the investigation into the incident.
“We’ve done a basic check and we do not have any active work permits, no outstanding violations related to the integrity of the building. Right now, we don’t know why this would have happened. Obviously, that is under active investigation as we do our rescue operations,” she said.
Representatives from the New York Department of Buildings are on the scene and will go in after the search to determine the stability of the structure.
The building has had 178 violations in the last two years, 103 of which are open, according to New York City Housing Preservation and Development website.
All utilities in the building have been shut off.
Shortly after the collapse, the NYPD issued an alert to locals asking them to avoid the area.