Manhole explosion, underground fires rock Union Square
A manhole explosion rocked a Manhattan block, setting off a series of underground fires and blowing out windows early Friday, officials said.
The manhole explosion erupted on Broadway near East 12th Street in front of the legendary Strand bookstore just before 7 a.m. and set off three fires, according to fire officials.
“Due to multiple manhole fires, expect extensive traffic delays in the area of Broadway & E 12th Street in MN,” the city’s Office of Emergency Management tweeted.
No one was injured.
The 11-story building at 826 Broadway — where the Strand is located on the ground floor — was evacuated following the explosion.
Windows were blown out of the iconic Big Apple bookstore, and from the apartment building above it, as well as windows from surrounding buildings.
Manhattan residents who heard and felt the blast immediately feared the worst.
“We heard this explosion. Our windows shook and I run to the window and see people running and cars driving backwards and I’m like holy f—king s—t,” said Serge Milman, 44, who lives nearby on Broadway.
“I lived through 9/11 over here and I’m thinking something ominous,” he said. “It literally sounded like a bomb.”
Ana Santos, 45, a security guard at 799 Broadway, said, “The first thing I thought was it’s a bomb. After 9/11, the first thing you think, is it a bomb?”
A woman was walking her dog on Broadway when the blast erupted and her 100-pound Anatolian shepherd took off running.
“I was 100 yards away when the explosion went off. I looked up and saw glass coming down from over the Strand,” she said. “It sounds as though a building collapsed … When I got to the corner, there was a woman running and screaming.”
A fire truck was parked on top of the manhole that exploded, witnesses said.
Neighbors were thankful no one was injured in the normally busy area.
Journalist Rima Abdelkader tweeted a short video of the initial smoky scene, saying, “Manhole explosion on East 12 and Broadway. Loud sound. My right ear is hurting from the sound on impact.”
“Just woken up by a huge explosion sound at 12th and Broadway. Looked out my fire escape and appears fire trucks already there,” Twitter user Ruby Anaya tweeted.
The explosions were even felt at the nearby Union Square subway station, straphangers said.
“Felt station shaking at union square this morning – multiple manhole explosions,” Twitter user @healthydoses tweeted.
Con Edison cut power to several buildings as they assessed the situation.
Con Edison spokesman Sidney Alvarez said road salt from the recent snowstorm triggered the blazes.
“It snowed a lot lately so some of the salt is washed into the energy system and created the smoke and fire,” he said.
( Source )