Sunday, July 31, 2011

No Injuries Reported After Manhole Fire Leads To Evacuations

Manhattan residents have returned to their homes after being evacuated because of a construction fire Friday. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Crews were working below ground on East 59th Street between First and Second Avenues to replace a water main when feeder cables short circuited Friday, causing a small explosion and fire.

The electrical fire disrupted service, knocking out power and forcing people out of their homes. Officials from the fire department said the explosion was dangerously close to a gas line.

"We had to evacuate the buildings behind the trench site, had the gas shut off on both ends of the block," said FDNY Chief Tom McKavanaugh.

A hole had been dug to replace a water main, and according to the City's Department of Design and Construction, Con Edison decided to use the open street to shore up some electrical wiring.

That's when two feeder cables short-circuited. A series of small explosions followed.

"I was on the phone and the phone went off. Then the light went off, only for a second," said one resident. "Then there was a big noise, like an explosion, but because of the construction I didn't pay attention because the noise is constant. But after 10 to 15 minutes, a fireman walks in and says 'get out, get out, you need to evacuate."

"I work at the Humane Society of New York, and basically all of our lights were flickering, so I came outside and there was a giant smoke plume in the air and they said to back up because there was an electrical fire," said one onlooker. "We were just hoping all of our animals were going to be okay."

All of those animals were okay, as were all the people who live along 59th street between First and Second Avenues who lost power and gas.

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