NEW YORK (AP) — A powerful blast in Manhattan's East Village sent flames soaring, launched debris into the air and caused the collapse of three five-story buildings.

Preliminary evidence suggested that Thursday's explosion was caused by a gas blast.

Smoke filled the streets and could be seen and smelled for miles as more than 100 firefighters tried to quell the blaze. On Friday, firefighters used high-powered water towers to pour gallons of water over the crumbled brick, twisted metal and splintered wood.

The regional CEO for the American Red Cross said about 50 apartments were in the affected buildings.