Washington Heights Manhole Explosion Sparks Fire

By Christine Show on May 10, 2013 5:22pm 

 A manhole is uncovered after it exploded at 173rd Street in Washington Heights Friday, May 10, 2013 causing flames to erupt.
A manhole is uncovered after it exploded at 173rd Street in Washington Heights Friday, May 10, 2013 causing flames to erupt.
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DNAinfo/Christine Show

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Two manholes exploded underneath a Washington Heights street Friday, causing flames to shoot onto the road startling nearby businesses and residents.

People inside nearby buildings were briefly evacuated as firefighters quickly put out the fire on Fort Washington Avenue at the corners of West 172nd and 173rd streets.

No injuries were reported, officials said.

Ciara Gutierrez, manager of the Maria Acosta Dentist office right next to the manhole at West 173rd Street, said she was with a patient around 11:30 a.m. when she heard two blasts rock the office one after another. When she looked outside, she saw flames coming from the ground.

“We felt it,” she said. “It was scary. When you have an explosion and you know there isn’t a construction site around, you think it’s a terror attack.”

Officials were checking the bottom of nearby buildings for carbon monoxide levels.

The explosions were caused by electrical cables underneath the road, said Erwin Prince, a Con Edison spokesman who said this type of explosions happen occasionally throughout the city,

The warmer temperatures could have contributed to causing the blaze and the age of the wires could cause them to wear out, he said.

“Nothing lasts forever,” he said.

 

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