Two Middle-Of-Night Manhole Fires Cause Smoke and Loud Bangs (Updated)

Editor’s note: It turns out this happened at two separate locations around the same time, so we’ve updated the post.

Neighbors were awoken after 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning because of a manhole fire in front of 575 West End Avenue at 88th street.

The fire started at 1:21 a.m., according to Con Ed and was caused by a failure on an electrical cable. One customer lost power, but it’s expected to be restored by Tuesday afternoon.

“Woke up around 2:30AM to a series of bursts outside (that sounded like a gun battle) and smoke pouring out from the manhole in front of 575 WEA,” wrote Christine Jaworsky, who sent int he photo and video above. Three firetrucks arrived and taped it off – never went near it. Con-Ed just showed up.”

A second fire erupted in a manhole at 108th Street and Broadway around 1 a.m., as  seen in the photo below by Bari Simensky.

“One loud ‘boom’ occurred at about 1:00 a.m and the other about an hour later,” Natasha told us. “The second scattered pavement and steel grate into Broadway. Fire was coming out of a manhole. The fire dept. was here and ConEd and others have been working since then and are still working now. Power is out at building 300 on 108th.”


Photo by David Leibowitz.

Con Ed did not respond to a request for comment on this fire.

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Rachel says:

      This is really strange as the same thing happened on Broadway between 107th and 108th Sts at the same time last night. Initial popping sounds at 1am followed by an explosion at 3am.

    2. dannyboy says:

      I asked someone from Con Ed who is working in the trench outside my house how long before replacements are required.

      He estimated 10-15 years. Best practice would be to ensure that Con Edison is doing routine maintenance as required, and not repair after the fact.

      • Independent says:

        “ensure that Con Edison is doing routine maintenance as required, and not repair after the fact.”

        Agreed. Corporations must be held accountable.

    3. Mark Schoifet says:

      The bigger explosion was on Broadway at 108th. About 250 people are still without power, and FiOs is knocked out in the area and won’t be fixed until early tomorrow, according to Verizon.

    4. Latasha says:

      Another two exploded around the same time, with fires, at 108 and Broadway. Work to restore power to building 300 is ongoing.

    5. Nygrl says:

      Happened at 108 and broadway too in front of 300 West 108. Two explosions at 1am and 3am.

    6. Griff says:

      It must have been a string of events last night…big explosion at 108th and WEA that set off car alarms around the same time. Looks like it was also manhole related

    7. Miriam says:

      So that’s the LOUD explosion I heard. I’m on 108th and it sounded like a bomb. Didn’t hear fire truck sirens after. I hoped you’d have the scoop on what happened. Thank!

    8. Hmmmm. says:

      The FDNY was working on the same manhole at WEA just south of 88th St on Monday afternoon.

      I wonder why…

    9. MF says:

      I was on my computer on 88th st. off West End at 2:30 am, when it stopped working. My apartment was dark, so I didn’t realize it had anything to do with electricity until I woke up later that morning and my clock radio numerals were bleeping in and out,so I knew there was an electrical outage during the night. I had electricity at that point, but no internet, phone or TV. Next thing I know Coned pulls up . When I left the house, I asked ConEd if they knew anything about the fire affecting internet service and they said “no connection.” Ridiculous answer.

    10. John says:

      Wow, 575 West End Avenue. I saw a shrink there between the years of 1965 and 1968. Boy, have I got stories to tell.

    11. Sandy Simon says:

      I hope the Doodle is alright.

    12. Jeff says:

      Verizon is saying this situation also damaged some of their lines and caused outages on West 96th Street. Some phones still not working as of Tuesday evening.

    13. Catherine says:

      My Verizon Fios is still out on 107th St. They tell me they haven’t been able to work on it yet because there’s a safety issue that needs to be cleared. Hopefully this get sorted out today!

    14. NYYgirl says:

      Still no landline phones in our building on WEA at 9:30 am on Wed 5/16. Not that anyone should need to add yet another reason to patronize our local independent stores, but yesterday at Suba Pharmacy where the credit card machine/phone was out due to this, they were offering to take our payments the following day if we didn’t have enough cash on hand for our medications. I can’t imagine one of the chain stores ever doing that!! Thank you Mr Suba & helpers. You guys are the best and kindest!!!! We are so glad you are here 🙂

    15. lewis taishoff says:

      Verizon FiOS is out on WEA from 108th Street down to 104th st. Currently anticipating restoration 2 am Thursday May 17.

    16. Christine Jaworsky says:

      My initial thought upon waking up from a dream and hearing the ‘pop,pop,pop,pop’ was either mass murder or a gang gunshot battle. Welcome to the United States of Automatic Assault Rifles and Gangbangers. Glad it turned out to be “only” deteriorating Con-Ed electrical lines. Hope power, etc is restored soon for those who lost it.