Manhole Covers Pop, Shoot Into Air in Midtown Amid Fires, Witnesses Say

What to Know

  • Three manholes caught fire in Midtown Wednesday evening
  • Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs and seeing at least one manhole cover shoot into the air
  • The fires come less than a week after manholes exploded in Union Square, spreading fear and panic

Several manhole fires led to evacuations in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday evening, with witnesses saying manhole covers were popping and flying into the air. 

Fires broke out at three manholes around 6 p.m. after electrical cables caught fire, officials said.

Video from 40th Street and Eighth Avenue shows flames and smoke pouring out of one of the manholes. Passersby are seen recording on their phones as emergency crews move in. 

The fires erupted as commuters were trying to catch buses at Port Authority Bus Terminal. 

Ray White said he was waiting for a friend when he heard a popping followed by a loud boom. He said he saw a manhole covers shoot about 25 to 30 feet into the air, up past a building scaffold. Then two more covers started popping. 

"The fire stopped for maybe a good three or four minutes, then it came back and just kept popping, popping. It was just going up in the air," White said. 

Gerald Shaw, of Queens, said when he got to the intersection, fire was coming up out of the ground. 

"We heard a big boom," Shaw said. "We didn't know what was going on." 

The fires come less than a week after exploding manholes shattered windows and terrified residents in Union Square. 

No one was injured in the fires outside Port Authority and no outages were reported, officials said. 

Police officers taped off the street in front of Port Authority as firefighters evacuated nearby shops and restaurants so they could inspect them for carbon monoxide and structural issues.

Con Edison was at the scene inspecting the damage and making repairs around 9 p.m. 

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