Lower Manhattan ‘boom’ caused by transformer explosion, officials say

Two manhole explosions caused a
Two manhole explosions caused a “boom” in lower Manhattan on Thursday, per the NYPD. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

A transformer vault exploded in lower Manhattan Thursday, causing a pair of manhole covers to blow off, injuring one person, fire officials said.

First responders were called to the scene of the explosion near 45 Maiden Lane just after 4:15 p.m., FDNY Deputy Chief Joe Schiralli said at an evening news conference.

One person, described as a man by multiple witnesses, suffered a minor injury when one of the manhole covers went off under a parked vehicle, police and fire officials said. The victim was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue for evaluation, per the FDNY.

“I saw him all shaken up and they kept asking him if he was OK. He kept saying ‘yeah,’” said Jonathan Nunez, a 24-year-old construction worker in the area. “He walked to an ambulance.”

Firefighters walk past a smoking car after a manhole exploded on Nassau Street in Manhattan, Thursday, March 22, 2018.
Firefighters walk past a smoking car after a manhole exploded on Nassau Street in Manhattan, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Robert McGee, a spokesman for Con Edison, said the utility company pulled crews from other jobs to respond to the scene. No power outages were reported in connection with the blast, he said.

Rosanna Baez, 60, was in the neighborhood at a physical therapy office and ran out into the street when she heard the blast.

“I just heard this loud bang,” she recalled. “At first, I didn’t think it was anything because there was no ambulance, but then all of a sudden, the sirens came.”

“It happened under a car and there was a man inside and I saw him get out,” said RV Patel, 22. “He looked all right, but he was shocked.”

People in the surrounding buildings were evacuated after the transformer vault, which supplies electricity to a building, exploded, Schiralli said.

“We detected carbon monoxide in the basement,” he explained. “We dispatched units throughout the block to get the carbon monoxide out.”

Folks in lower Manhattan took to Twitter shortly after the incident to report the “boom” sound and the emergency sirens that followed.

“So. . .anybody know what that giant boom was in lower Manhattan a few minutes ago?” tweeted Dan Lavoie‏.

“Well that was a big bang. WTH #whatwasthat #lowermanhattan,” Elizabeth Claps ‏tweeted.

“Hearing sirens after the explosion in nyc lower Manhattan. What happened?” tweeted Kat Daddy.

Nassau Street was closed to vehicle traffic between Maiden Lane and Liberty Street, police said.

A spike in smoking manholes is common after a major storm, particularly when a lot of salt has been placed on the ground, according McGee. There were several reports of smoking manholes on Thursday, he added.

With Alison Fox

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