Midtown manhole fire sends smoke billowing into air

A manhole fire erupted on Eighth Avenue in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
A manhole fire erupted on Eighth Avenue in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

A manhole fire on Eighth Avenue in midtown Wednesday evening sent pedestrians scattering for safety while smoke poured into the street.

The FDNY was first alerted to the blaze at 610 Eighth Ave., near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, around 6:18 p.m., according to a spokeswoman. The fire was brought under control around 8:20 p.m.

Robert Seabrook, 22, of Brownsville, said he was a block away from the fire on Eighth Avenue when it erupted. Smoke followed what he described as a loud bang. 

“I saw a big cloud of smoke come up from the [manhole] at around 6:30, and then maybe at 7 p.m. I heard a big blast,” he said. 

Another boom rang out around 7:30 p.m., sending more smoke billowing into the street.

Laverne Welsh, 21, of Crown Heights, said she saw the manhole shoot several stories in the air, landing without hitting anyone. Smoke and several bangs followed. She said people immediately started running from the area.  

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what the hell is going on?’ When all you saw was fire and smoke, everyone started running.”

Rey White, 44, said he watched three manholes pop up during the blast. There was a bit of chaos at first, he said, but the emergency response was swift.

“They were here in minutes,” White said of the police. “Everyone was worried at first but they explained it was a manhole fire and everyone calmed down quickly.”

At least one building was evacuated due to a high carbon monoxide reading, the FDNY said. There were no reported injuries.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The fire occurred less than a week after multiple manhole fires on 12th Street, near Union Square.