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Flames Explode from New York Manhole

Flames Explode from New York Manhole

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New York Daily News via YellowBrix

April 08, 2010

NEW YORK – A buildup of carbon monoxide under a Midtown street caused an underground fire and a manhole explosion Tuesday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of four buildings near Times Square, the authorities said.

The explosion occurred at 4:30 p.m. outside of 226 West 52nd Street, the Novotel Hotel. No one was injured, but the hotel and three other buildings were evacuated and part of Broadway was shut down for hours.

The Fire Department said the explosion, just down the street from the Roseland Ballroom and around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, was caused by feeder cables under the street catching fire and creating a buildup of smoke and carbon monoxide.

Four hours after the explosion, the scene was still chaotic. Traffic was blocked off and crowds of hotel guests and passers-by flooded Broadway, which was closed between 51st and 52nd Streets.

Jean-Francois Sanchez, visiting New York for the first time with his wife, could not get into the Novotel, where they were to stay. Mr. Sanchez said they took a cab from the airport and were dropped off at 48th Street and told to walk the remaining four blocks with their luggage. A hotel worker then told them to get some food and return in a couple of hours.

When they returned at 8:30 p.m., the street was still closed, and Con Ed employees were furiously working on the manhole. A Red Cross employee said the hotel was hiring a bus to shuttle guests to other hotels across the city.

“It’s amazing,” Mr. Sanchez said. “It’s my first time in New York, and this happens.”