Broadway re-opened after manhole explosion

April 7, 2010 7:49:18 AM PDT
Parts of Midtown re-opened Wednesday morning following an explosion and manhole fire along Broadway Tuesday. It forced people out of a a hotel and neighboring restaurants and kept the curtain down on a Broadway show.

Broadway was re-opened from West 51st through West 53rd streets just before 5:30 a.m. But West 52nd Street remained closed between 8th Avenue and Broadway as crews repair utility poles.

The incident happened Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. at 226 West 52nd Street and Broadway, and quickly grew to a three-alarm fire.

The smoke and carbon monoxide levels were so dangerous that four buildings, including the Novotel Hotel, had to be evacuated.

Those four buildings evacuated included:

  • 226 West 52nd Street, a 33-story commercial building with church from floors 1 to 4 and the Novotel Hotel from floor 5 to 33.
  • 228 West 52nd Street, a 5-story multiple dwelling, restaurant on floors 1 and 2 (Gallagher's Steakhouse)
  • 234 West 52nd Street, a 4-story landmarked commercial building
  • 236 West 52nd Street, a 5-story residential building with restaurant on 1st floor

    Also, The August Wilson Theater could not open for Tuesday night's performance of Jersey Boys.

    Witnesses say flames and smoke shot 7 feet in the air from the manhole on 52nd Street.

    Con Ed says this was caused by an underground transformer fire being ignited by smoldering power cables.

    More than 130 firefighters were called to the scene as some residents watched in fear.

    "It was actually really scary. I was downstairs in the basement when it first happened, and all the lights went out. It was for a brief second, but it was pretty scary," said Theresa Saks.

    Seven firefighters were injured, but not seriously. No civilians were hurt.

    The hotel guests were moved to other hotels in Brooklyn.