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Manhole Fire Leaves Borough Park Block Without Electricity

By  Julie  Shapiro and Fred Dreier | June 21, 2012 9:11pm 

Workers doused charred wires on 14th Avenue in Brooklyn June 21, 2012.
Workers doused charred wires on 14th Avenue in Brooklyn June 21, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

BOROUGH PARK — A manhole fire shut down a block of Borough Park Thursday evening and left residents and businesses without electricity.

The underground fire sparked about 6 p.m. Thursday on 14th Avenue between 39th and 40th streets, fire officials said.

Residents said they saw smoke billowing from a manhole, and then they saw smoke and flames come out of a vent in the street about 35 feet away. Residents also heard a popping noise from the vent.

An FDNY official on the scene said Thursday's extreme heat likely played a role in the fire. The blaze probably started when a piece of garbage or wire insulation ignited as the electrical system heated up because of increased usage, the FDNY official said.

"It's hotter than usual because of the power usage," said the official, who did not give his name. "On a day like today we are at a peak for usage."

Con Edison responded to the fire and dragged a bundle of charred wires from the manhole, then doused it in water.

A Con Edison spokesman said the utility was investigating what caused the fire and hoped to restore power Thursday evening.