New York

Violent Manhole Explosions Rattle Midtown Manhattan; 6 Hurt

Several buildings were evacuated, including Chelsea Day School, because of elevated carbon monoxide levels in the area

What to Know

  • A series of manhole blasts rattled midtown Manhattan Wednesday morning, injuring six people, all but one of them firefighters
  • A building on 32nd Street, site of the initial fire call, was evacuated; other buildings were evacuated as well due to elevated CO levels
  • 32nd Street was shut down between Fifth and Madison avenues to facilitate the emergency response

A series of manhole explosions rattled midtown Manhattan Wednesday, making people jump with sudden booms as black smoke billowed out from underground.

All together, up to five active manhole fires were reported, fire officials said. 

Six people, five firefighters and a building supervisor, were hurt in a "flash smoke explosion" inside the original blast site on 32nd Street shortly before 10 a.m., authorities said. All injuries were considered non life-threatening.

That building, at 6 East 32nd Street, was evacuated as authorities canvassed the area. Others nearby, including Chelsea Day School, were also evacuated as smoke from the fires caused elevated carbon monoxide levels. 

Con Edison was working to cut off power to the affected buildings, at which point firefighters planned to conduct searches to make sure no one was trapped in any elevators and that carbon monoxide levels had returned to acceptable amounts. 

At this point, fire officials say the cause of the blazes appears to have something to do with electrical infrastructure. ConEd said the official cause is equipment failure.

Authorities shut down 32nd Street between Fifth and Madison avenues for hours to facilitate the emergency response.

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