Explosions in downtown Albany

smoking maholes in downtown Albany

Smoke coming out of manhole covers at Broadway and State on Monday. (photo: Erik Morton)

(This post continues the short post started at 3:36 pm)

@erikimorton reported this afternoon that there was some kind of underground explosion in downtown Albany that caused a loud boom -- smoke was coming out of utility holes at Broadway and State near the SUNY Admin building. Firefighters were on the scene. Another pic from @bickersmith.

Update: WNYT reports that the fire department says the fire is out.

There's also a report from @AndileeC of smoking utility hole at Washington and Swan.

Update: WTEN is reporting street closures downtown.

Update at 4:45: From a comment by bill (location link added by editors):

not near the suny admin building- it was the corner of washington and swan. i walked out of one commerce plaza and a manhole cover was on fire. about 10 minutes later, a 4 story fireball erupted from the ground. after that, there was smoke for a good 15 minutes then another explosion that i heard, but didn't see. all has been clear there for about an hour.

Update at 4:53 pm: We just got off the phone with Patrick Stella, a spokesperson with National Grid. He confirmed that there were two "cable fires" this afternoon in downtown Albany. He said crews found that manhole covers had been "dislodged" at two intersections -- State and Broadway as well as Washington and Swan (both locations had two manhole covers off their holes).

Stella said the cable that caught fire was a "secondary cable." He said there are "several different" possible causes of such a fire, but he wouldn't speculate what was to blame in this case. He says there have been no outages because of the fires. As he described it, the downtown grid is built with redundancies -- and those backups have kept the power on.

Also: a National Grid worker on the scene told AOA that one of the covers at Washington and Swan did "explode."

Update at 5:17 pm: Troy had something similar happen almost a year ago.

And from a comment by seg:

One blew right next to my office window here at System Administration, along with the one that blew about 50 feet away at the bottom of State and Broadway.

Scared the HECK out of us. We saw flames shoot out and it shot the covers up into the air about six feet up.

It shook the building...no small feat considering how large this old D&H building is.

Know anything else? Share, please.

Updated at 7:15 pm: After the jump, pictures of the crew working on the holes at Washington and Swan.

manholes washington swan 1

manholes washington swan 2

manholes washington swan 3

manholes washington swan 4

manholes washington swan 5

(Thanks, Erik!)

photo of smoke at top: Erik Morton

Comments

"Hey baby, you've got a smoking utility hole"

TU Says this:

http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=778028

Manhole covers blow in downtown Albany
Washington Avenue closed from Hawk to Dove streets

Staff reports
Last updated: 4:34 p.m., Monday, March 9, 2009

ALBANY — An apparent underground fire caused several manholes to blow in downtown Albany this afternoon, closing Washington Avenue just a block from the state Capitol, and a few blocks east in the area of State and Pearl streets.

By 4 p.m., the corner of South Swan Street and Washington Avenue was clustered with several National Grid crews, who were checking unblown manhole covers before descending under the streets, as well as fire and rescue vehicles.

State workers and other commuters have been told to steer clear of manholes as they make their way to alternate bus routes.

----

What's scary is that I work less than a block away in an area where the "underground" could be affected, and we have not been notified of anything. No alternate bus routes, nada!

I just put a call in to the Ninja Turtles since they live in the sewers & can probably provide eye witness testimony. See, I'm all over this.

Oh, no! @Pantaloons, I hope no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were injured today. The powers that be may blame this on, "cable fire," but it's got Shredder written all over it.

Our power on State St. between Dove and Swan has been flickering all afternoon... I guess this is why?

Holy crap; how did I miss this?!

I think I can speak for all the single ladies of Albany when I say I was hoping for pictures of firemen after the jump.

That is incredible, it could have caused some serious injuries.

@Lucy: I'm pretty sure you can speak for a few single guys as well.

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