MANHATTAN – Road salt and melting snow from the overnight snowstorm are likely to blame for triggering a smoky and scary underground manhole fire in Yorkville Friday morning that’s knocked out power to eight buildings on East 92nd Street.
Firefighters were seen taping off a large area around the smoking manhole in front of 313 East 92nd Street, between Second and First Avenues, as police officers stood a safe distance away assessing the danger.
Loud electrical buzzing noises could be heard blasting from under the street in the same spot where the thick grey and white smoke billowed out from between two parked cars and filled the block.
The cold January air was hazy and thick with the smell of burnt wires. Neighbors said the manhole had been smoking since 11:00 am.
One woman walking on the sidewalk opposite the smoking manhole said out loud, “I hope it doesn’t explode,” echoing our exact sentiments at that same moment.
A Con Edison spokesperson tells Upper East Site the smoke is likely the result of road salt “getting washed into our underground electric system after the snowfall,” which can corrode the high-voltage wires.
So far, the utility company says there have been no injuries or property damage reported— though, we’re told 93 apartments and businesses in those eight buildings have been affected by the power outage.
“We have crews on location helping to make the area safe and perform any necessary repairs,” a company spokesperson told Upper East Site.
No estimate has been given on a restoration of power, though police and Con Edison have had East 92nd Street closed for several hours while crews work to fix things underground.