Two weeks after the Boston fire department responded to several manhole fires in the city, two other explosions occurred in the city’s Financial District on Thursday morning. Two people are believed to have been injured in the latest incident, in which a woman was taken to Tufts Medical Center after suffering rapid burns.
Amateur video shows flames rising from the manhole for a brief moment around 8:40 a.m., creating a lot of smoke and shattering adjacent windows. Authorities suspect the explosions were the result of underground pressure, as Deputy Sheriff Brian Tully said. NBC10 Boston:
Tully says the fiery explosions are thought to be caused by over-pressurization underground. A manhole cover was found a few feet from the manhole; The injured woman suffered burns, possibly from the steam, but was able to get to an ambulance.
“As we are using a lot of electricity and energy, appliances are being overused,” says Tully, “I believe the energy system in our city is safe,” says Tully.
Buildings along High Street, where the explosion occurred, were evacuated while high levels of carbon monoxide were reported in the area afterward. Utility workers have arrived to check for natural gas leaks, according to Boston Globe, and positive-pressure fans have been introduced to expel carbon monoxide to the exteriors of the buildings’ interiors. Nearby ramps to I-93 were closed for about two hours after the explosion.
Manhole fires are not as unusual as they thought. One Similar explosion happened in Times Square two months ago, send the crowd running. In that case, Con Edison determined the cable fire was caused by the burning of the conductor’s insulation.
Witnesses in Boston were left in shock at the moment, with an individual who worked nearby telling the Globe that “it’s appalling because we don’t know what’s going on at the moment. It really sounded like a bomb.” Another believes they saw a lightning strike just before the first explosion:
“I was startled because… it was clearly a bolt of lightning,” said [Carmen] Durso, a prominent attorney who represents sexual abuse victims in civil proceedings. “And to see one between the buildings is amazing. You might expect it to hit buildings, but apparently it fell there… it was an immediate bang from the lightning and then the explosion.”
However, Boston’s electricity supplier, Eversource, did not believe today’s incident had anything to do with lightning or, in the words of the deputy fire chief, “overloaded equipment”. According to the Globe:
Eversource spokesman William Hinkle said the affected manholes belonged to the utility company and that no Eversource employees were working there at the time. Hinkle said the cause of the manhole explosions is being investigated by Eversource along with other utility companies and the fire department.
“This morning’s incident is not related to an overloaded electrical system and we have not received any indication of lightning,” he said. “Our team continues to work with local officials and other service agencies to investigate the specific cause and other details.”
Eversource said it plans to share the results of the investigation with the Department of Public Utilities.