FLATIRON — Diners in a champagne lounge and several high end restaurants left their flutes and appetizers Monday at 1 p.m. after two manhole fires left a billowing trail of black smoke near Park Avenue South, witnesses and FDNY said.
Firefighters rushed to the scene of the explosions at 45 East 20th Street, about 1 p.m., officials said.
The blaze was caused by an electrical fire under the street, said Battalion Chief Dean Koester on scene. No injuries were reported.
Several buildings showed increased levels of carbon monoxide, officials said, from 30 to 43 East 20th St., Koester said.
The first floor and basements of the buildings were evacuated but people were being allowed back into the buildings as levels were dropping, officials on scene said.
Angel Pina, 39, a maintenance worker at 50 East 20th St., said he was in the basement of his building when he heard the explosions.
"I heard something upstairs, like, 'boom, boom, boom,'" said Pina. "Then I came up and saw black smoke."
Mario Gutierrez, 41, a building manager at 254 Park Avenue South also said he noticed black smoke rising from the manhole but didn't hear an explosion or see a fire.
Twentieth street between Park Avenue South and Broadway was closed due to the fire.