As more than 250 firefighters swarmed the East Village of Manhattan to quell the flames caused by a building explosion Thursday, Saxon Eldridge was in the air.
Police had restricted access to the streets surrounding the inferno on Second Avenue, but Eldridge, who lives nearby, wanted to document the chaos that gripped his neighborhood. Luckily, he had a drone ready to film the aftermath from the skies.
Standing on East 8th Street, just blocks away from the wreckage, Eldridge spoke with HuffPost Crime as he concentrated on flying his GoPro-mounted drone. He watched as the blinking quadcopter flew into the night, just above neighborhood buildings. A small screen next to him relayed what the drone was seeing.
"A friend called me around 3:30 yesterday to ask if I was OK, as a building next to mine had just exploded -- I was at the dentist's office in the chair," Saxon, 35, told The Huffington Post. "I asked the dentist to speed it up, and was on my bike heading to the scene by 3:40, and was in the air by 4:10."
The East Village ad rep never got dangerously close to the action. In video that he released to HuffPost Crime (above), he instead uses his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter to record stunning wide-angles of smoke rising from the scene where firefighters fought to extinguish the blaze that leveled several buildings.
"I was staying back because I didn't want the on-board communications on the drone to interfere with FDNY or NYPD communications," Eldridge said. "I didn't want to distract the rescue workers from doing their jobs. Also, the heated updrafts from the fire would have sent the drone into outer space if it didn't melt first."
Watch some of his footage above, and visit his Instagram page for more.