Five people, including three children, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after three manhole fires erupted while they were outside in Queens, charring two parked cars nearby, officials say.
Fire officials say reports of the fires near 75th Street and 88th Avenue in Woodhaven came in around 12:40 a.m. Thursday, and the flames were brought under control less than two hours later.
Con Edison spokesman Allan Drury said the fire resulted from "a failure of underground delivery equipment."
He said one customer was without power.
Residents said they were startled out of their beds by a loud "boom."
"I grabbed my phone, called 911 and told them there was a car on fire," said Ines Sanabria. "As I'm telling this to her, flames shot up again."
Linda Carasquillo, whose three grandchildren were among the victims taken to the hospital because of smoke inhalation, said the children were recovering well. But she wants more answers about the fires.
"I want it to be investigated. What happened? What did they do?" Carasquillo said. "We have elderly people and children here. This could've been a tragedy."
Published at 6:17 AM EDT on Aug 22, 2013 | Updated at 11:16 AM EDT on Aug 22, 2013
Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York