Manhole Explosions Rocks Downtown New Rochelle, “Like a Bomb Went Off” says Fire Chief

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A series of explosions rocked downtown New Rochelle during this morning’s rush hour.

A fire in a Con Ed electrical vault shortly after 8 a.m. caused an explosion that sent flames shooting up into the street directly in front of New Rochelle Fire House 1 in downtown New Rochelle. More than hour later there was a second manhole explosion. There was a third explosion at the same location as the second at about 10:30 a.m.

The first manhole explosion near 44 Harrison Street sent firefighters scrambling to find the source of the loud blast.

“It rocked the fire house,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Benz. “The blast shook the fire house, thats how we know something was going on.”

After checking their own building, firefighters came out into the street to find flames coming out of the manhole in front of the station.

“It sounds like a bomb went off.” said Benz.

Sara Caldwell who works for Westchester County at nearby 145 Huguenot Street said “It was a low, gut-wrenching boom like a bomb”

The fire department immediately called Con Edison. Con Edison says they received a call from NRFD at 8:21 a.m.

Nearby buildings were checked. 44 Fountain Place had CO levels measure at 400 parts per million, well over the OSHA limit of 8-10 ppm, said Benz. When high levels of carbon monoxide was found in the basement of two buildings they were evacauted. About 90 minutes later, as firefighters were preparing to leave the scene, a second manhole exploded in front of 44 Fountain Place. There was a third explosion with flames and heavy smoke about an hour after that, at the same 44 Fountain Place location.

Benz said he thinks salt must have gotten in the electrical vault and a spark set off the explosions.

The Harrison Street manhole went straight up and landed back on top of the hold partially covering the hole as flames shot up.

Black smoke and flames were coming out of the manhole at Fountain Place.

Con Edison quickly had a a supervisor and crew on the scene.

We had a manhole cover dislodged at 45 Harrison Street reported by the New Rochelle Fire Department at 8:21 a.m.,” said Con Ed spokesperson Allan Drury. “There are no reports of outages, injuries or property damage”.

Verizon FiOS News, News12 and Eyewitness news were all one scene to cover the story first broken on Talk of the Sound.

UPDATE: Con Edison has to replace a feeder cable into the Stop & Shop at New Roc City, they will be cutting power to buildings in the area including those on Fountain Place, all along Harrison Street and down Main Street (345 Main and 361 Main).

PHOTO CREDITS: John D’Alois, Sara Caldwell, James O’Toole.

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