Con Edison crews are investigating a massive steam pipe rupture in West Village on Saturday night that sent clouds of white vapor into the sky for hours.
The plumes shot out of the ground at 7th Avenue and W. 10th Street around 9:45 p.m. on April 2, leading to nearby businesses and residents to evacuate, according to a Fire Department spokesperson. There were no reported injuries.
A couple living right across the street watched the dramatic scene unfold outside.
“The apartment kept shaking every couple of minutes and then we looked outside and just a big cloud, a billow of steam — we could hardly see out our window,” said Natasha Avanessians.
FDNY and Con Edison shut down two steam valves on 7th Avenue north and south of W. 10th street, and the utility and the city Department of Environmental Protection remained at the scene, according to the Fire Department rep.
Three steam customers lost service due to the rupture and two of them were hooked up again by 3:30 a.m. as Con Ed works to restore the remaining outage, according to utility spokesperson Alfonso Quiroz.
Crews are in the area to determine the cause of the incident and work on repairs, Quiroz added.
Steam had been emanating from the grates on that street all day, said Avanessians.
Her husband Russell Murphy caught the incident on camera and posted it on social media, showing rows of firefighters watching the steam from halfway down the block.
Water is pouring into into the sinkhole, looks like that’s what’s causing the steam. pic.twitter.com/m0UtNrimUE
— Russell Murphy 🛴🚲🛵 (@RussMurphNY) April 3, 2022
Other footage from the scene posted on the Citizen App shows onlookers watching the steam surge from the cracked street, as more than a dozen emergency vehicles line the avenue.
The Manhattan couple, both of whom work in communications, decided to leave the area to stay with Avanessians’s parents in another part of the borough due to concerns about harmful particles in the air as a result of the incident.
“We left at about 11:30 p.m. and it was still going,” Murphy said. “We did not hang out to find out when it would be turned off.”
Murphy cited a 2018 case when a steam pipe ruptured in the Flatiron district and sent white smoke and debris containing asbestos into the air. The city at the time evacuated 49 buildings and closed off three blocks of Fifth Avenue.
DEP found asbestos in so-called bulk samples the agency collected from the ground, but Con Ed’s air monitoring tests have so far come up negative for the mineral, said Quiroz.
The utility is wrapping up the street cleaning and beginning to clean a façade of a nearby building, and will continue testing throughout that process.
After the cleanup, Con Ed will excavate the site to find the cause of the incident.
According to Murphy, the hubbub didn’t stop other people from enjoying their Saturday night out in the bustling neighborhood.
On their way out of the apartment with suitcases packed, masks on, and their dog in tow, the couple saw people still lining up to get into a bar a mere 200 feet away from the burst site, and restaurant patrons down the street enjoying their dinners carefree.
“West Village reservations are hard to come by. Even the late ones,” Murphy wrote in a text message, adding, “#newyorkisback.”