NEW YORK – A steam pipe exploded in Manhattan causing evacuation in the busy hours of Thursday morning, hitting commuters in mud and debris.
A New York Fire Department spokesman said a call came in at 6:00 am: 39:00 for a "high-pressure steam explosion" near Madison Square Park. About an hour later, 25 firefighters and more than 100 firefighters and medical personnel were on site. There were no injuries or deaths, the FDNY said.
Firefighters evacuated buildings near the explosion site on 1
"It's big," the spokesman said. "It's not smoke, it's steam, but there still has to be something where buildings are evacuated."
Officials said firefighters were still working to stem the three-alarm explosion. A developer of the Municipal Department for Environmental Protection has installed a water pipe at the intersection.
NYPD officers were also on the scene, which directs traffic, according to the NYPD
Sgt. Lee Jones.
He added that the incident does not seem to be criminal.
A spokesman for Con Edison said the crew had tested asbestos and other pollutants in the area. "As a precaution, anyone who has been covered with material near the crack is advised to pack their clothes and take a shower," the spokesman said in a statement.
The mayor's chief spokesman said in a tweet that the explosion had done no structural damage.
"First aiders are now putting an end to water barriers," says Sprecher
said. "FDNY checks nearby shafts for safety. Preventive and temporary evacuation of buildings nearby. Travel delays are likely to remain.
The city's R and W subway lines encircled 23rd Street in both directions due to the incident, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Anyone working in the area with a co-working company got off the tube at Union Square just before 6:45 am and noticed steam, thinking it was from a restaurant. As he turned to 5th Avenue, he saw a cloud of cloud and heard the roar.
"There is a solid substance that comes out of the cloud and covers the ground – at first I honestly thought the solid substance is ashes and it's a fire, but it's just gray and not ashes," said Mr. Hinnant.
He said the explosion had two holes in the street, one bigger hole in 5th Avenue and 21st and another just south of 5th Avenue and 20th Street.
"It still happens completely, it's like a huge roar," Mr. Hinnant said. "I can see two cars under the cloud, they are completely covered with everything that falls out of the thing."
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A Manhattan resident working in a jewelry store took a Citi bike to a practice site in Chelsea when the blast took place only a few yards away.
"Suddenly I heard" Pow! ", She said. "There were debris and run-down steam, I was covered in mud."
Woman. Eckhouse said she had gone so fast to get away as soon as possible. Within a minute she parked her Citi bike and set off for her class.
Now she is somewhat philosophical about the experience. "It's New York City," she said. "Everything can happen anytime."
-Charles Passy has contributed to this article.
Write to Zolan Kanno-Youngs at Zolan.Kanno-Youngs@wsj.com