Ray Villeda

Manholes Explode in Manhattan, Closing Stretch of 1st Avenue on Upper East Side

What to Know

  • Five manholes exploded on the Upper East Side on Tuesday evening
  • No injuries were reported, but dozens of firefighters were checking area buildings for high levels of carbon monoxide
  • The FDNY said an investigation into a cause is ongoing

Several manholes exploded on the Upper East Side on Tuesday evening, closing part of First Avenue and prompting dozens of firefighters to check surrounding buildings for carbon monoxide. 

Five manholes in all exploded around 5 p.m., according to the FDNY, which said more than 60 firefighters swarmed the scene. A Con Edison crew was was also seen working as yellow tape blocked off an intersection at First Avenue. 

ConEd said one manhole blew at 72nd Street and First Avenue, causing a power outage inside 402 E. 72nd St. That explosion caused four other nearby manholes to blow out. 

"A loud bang that's all I heard," Richard Stern of the Upper East Side said.

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More than 60 firefighters were at the scene, the FDNY said.

No injuries were reported, the FDNY said. One building — 1315 First Avenue — was evacuated on the first and basement floors. 

"I was standing here working, all of a sudden you heard a pop," Jim Quinn, who witnessed one of the lids pop, said. "We didn't know what it was and we looked out and could see smoke coming out of the manhole."

Traffic was shut down on First Avenue, between 71st and 73rd streets, at the height of rush hour.

ConEd said repairs were being made and that it hoped to have power restored sometime Tuesday evening. 

The cause of the explosions wasn't immediately known, but a possible transformer or electricity issue is being looked at. The FDNY said an investigation is ongoing. 

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