Aug. 11, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A man who was found dead by firefighters following an explosion inside his Woodside/Elmhurst apartment Tuesday likely killed himself prior to the massive blast, police said.
Anesti Bulgaretsi, 26, was discovered by firefighters inside a seventh-floor penthouse apartment, located at 73-01 41 Ave., after an explosion and subsequent fire ripped through the upper floors of the building. The damage was so severe that it blew the roof off the penthouse ceiling and part of the building collapsed.
Police say that Bulgaretsi, who lived in the penthouse near the Woodside/Elmhurst border, was found in a bathroom tub with self-inflicted stab wounds to his stomach and wrist. The apartment’s gas line had been “cut” and matches had been found near his body along with a knife, police said.
Bulgaretsi was suffering from depression, chronic head pain and had been out of work for two months, the New York Daily News reported. He had been telling people before his death he wanted to return to his native Greece.
The explosion, authorities believe, was set off by Bulgaretsi and the building was rocked so hard that FDNY Chief Thomas Currao declared it “very unstable”
Officials evacuated the building along with two buildings to its rear. The FDNY said Wednesday evening that it is still working on stabilizing the building and trying to mitigate any further collapse.
The FDNY dispatched more than 140 firefighters to the scene shortly after 10:25 a.m. Tuesday and declared the blaze a three-alarm fire. The blaze was later upgraded to a four-alarm fire with an additional 60 firefighters sent to the location.
Four firefighters sustained minor injuries battling the inferno, the FDNY said.
A number of walls inside the penthouse collapsed, an FDNY spokesperson said, and a column of bricks could be seen leaning ominously over the street below Tuesday night.
Residents reported hearing a slow rumble followed by a loud boom, according to ABC7NY. The explosion was so forceful that some residents thought a plane had crashed into the building.
One Dead in Four-Alarm Fire on Building Rooftop After Explosion @CitizenApp
73-01 41st Ave Yesterday 10:26:49 AM EDT