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Nearly 650 UWS Homes and Businesses Lost Power After Manhole Fire: Con Ed

By  Teddy Grant Trevor Kapp and Ben Fractenberg | July 13, 2017 6:50pm | Updated on July 14, 2017 5:33pm

 Responders shut down several blocks after a manhole fire broke out at 71st Street and Amsterdam Avenue Thursday, July 13, 2017.
Responders shut down several blocks after a manhole fire broke out at 71st Street and Amsterdam Avenue Thursday, July 13, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

UPPER WEST SIDE — Nearly 650 homes and businesses spent the sweltering night without power after a manhole fire on Broadway on Thursday afternoon, which coincidentally marked the 40th anniversary of the great city-wide blackout, Con Edison said Friday morning.

The fire started under the intersection of Broadway, Amsterdam Avenue and West 71st Street about 5:13 p.m., according to FDNY and Con Edison officials, and power was not fully restored until nearly 24 hours later. 

Responders closed Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue for several blocks and 71st Street going east to Columbus Avenue while they extinguished the blaze.

"Power just started flickering. Then everything went out. I had some lights and air conditioning, but no stove, no refrigerator, no elevators, and I'm on the eighth floor so I couldn't get anything delivered," said Doug Drummond, 55, who lives on 71st Street.

"It's frustrating. It's a hassle," Drummond added.

Businesses were forced to turn away customers and throw away food during the blackout.

"We couldn't take any customers from 6 p.m. on. Everything just quickly went off. We had to throw away food. We do good breakfast business most days, but not today," said Balwinder Murabia, 55, manager of Cafe 71.

"We're waiting, just hoping [the electricity] comes on as soon as possible," Murabia added.

Others were kept up by crews working through the night.

"They started towing cars around 3:30 a.m. so all you heard for two hours was the backing up of tow trucks," said neighborhood resident Kevin Meehan, 58.

Power was finally restored to all the buildings by 4 p.m. Friday, a Con Edison spokeswoman said, after an initial estimate said it would be back by 11 a.m. 

It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the blaze.