New York

Power Restored to 40 Upper West Side Buildings After Manhole Fire

Power was restored to 40 Upper West Side buildings Friday after more than 600 people were left in the dark on the muggiest night of the year following a manhole fire that cut electricity the day before, utility company Con Edison said. 

Rush hour was brought to a complete halt as the manhole fire spewed thick, black smoke into surrounding streets for hours on Thursday. 

A Con Ed spokesperson said power had been restored to all but three of the 40 buildings by 12:30 p.m. Friday. Shortly before 6 p.m. — more than 12 hours after the initial outage — power was restored to all of the buildings. 

Fire officials say the fire erupted shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday at 72nd Street and Broadway.

Crowds of onlookers were watching smoke pour from the manhole as firefighters converged on the area.

"Smoke, just smoke," said Tiffany Bartley.

Witnesses said they heard rumbling and thought it was thunder. When they looked outside they saw smoke rising from the street. 

"I just kept hearing rumble, rumble, and I thought, 'Here comes the thunderstorm,' but then I got up and I heard sirens and saw black smoke," said John Gingrich.

Officials say an underground electrical cable fire was to blame and that Thursday's extreme heat may have played a role. 

No injuries or damages were reported.

Traffic closures that remained in effect near 71st and 72nd streets and Broadway Friday morning were believed to have been lifted by the evening. Subways were not affected. 

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