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Several Buildings Evacuated in Astoria Tuesday Following Multiple Manhole Explosions

Firefighters at the scene in Astoria following manhole explosions (Citizen)

Feb. 9, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

Several buildings in Astoria were evacuated Tuesday after multiple manhole explosions went off sending smoke billowing into the air.

Firefighters responded to reports of manhole fires outside Capital One Bank, located at 31-17 Broadway, just before 3 p.m., according to the FDNY.

A number of Citizen users captured video footage of heavy smoke at the scene. In one instance, a car could be seen parked on top of a manhole outside Investors Bank, located at 31-01 Broadway, with smoke coming up from the roadway.

One user recorded a woman walking past the car just before a loud explosion went off from underneath the vehicle.

There were no injuries reported from the incident, the FDNY said.

Explosion From Two Maintenance Hole Fire @CitizenApp

32nd St & Broadway 2:57:55 PM EST

The FDNY said that several units arrived at the scene and assessed a number of buildings on the block for carbon monoxide seepage as a result of the fires.

Firefighters detected elevated levels of gas inside Capital One Bank as well as at 31-01 Broadway, which is occupied by Investors Bank, Starbucks and Quontic Bank. Elevated carbon monoxide levels were also detected at Club Fitness, located at 31-11 Broadway. All of the buildings were evacuated, the FDNY said.

The FDNY said that the scene is now under control.

Manhole fires are a common occurrence in New York City, particularly in the winter.

The mixture of melting snow and de-icing salt seeping into manholes cause frayed low-voltage cables to fail. In turn, that causes fires, smoke and explosions that can send manhole covers flying.

Smoke billowing out from a manhole cover that has a car parked above it (Citizen)

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Local Architect

I was in a building very close to this, felt the explosion in the fourth floor – thought it was a bomb. If this is really caused my melting snow/ice and salt/calcium chloride being used by NYC DOT, why don’t they stop using salt to treat the roads?!? Use sand, or dirt as a safe alternative! Seems like a no brainer to me. We also need to update our aging 100+ year old infrastructure in this city!

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