NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A damaged electrical cable led to stray voltage in Chelsea on Thursday, electrifying a sidewalk grate and spreading to nearby doorknobs and manhole covers.
Sixth Avenue between West 26th and 27th streets was cordoned off while a crew worked feverishly to repair the problem, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported. Businesses were forced to close, and signs warned pedestrians to stay away.
Con Ed officials believe rock salt used to melt snow and ice on streets led to the corrosion of the cable. When it rained Wednesday, the salt caused the voltage to spike.
“It was traced to a service line – power service line – from the street to a building. No outages or injuries to anybody,” Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
Doorman Roland Morris told Jones that Con Ed was warning residents on the block not to touch metal door handles. “They called and said it’s dangerous because you could get electrocuted, so I obey.”
Serenity Spa posted a sign warning customers not to touch the door handle, Jones reported.
Clendenin told Sanchez a crew cut the the service line, eliminating the source of the voltage, and the area is now considered safe.
Jason Wiseman, who walks dogs in the neighborhoods, said he wasn’t worried about the potential danger of stray voltage until now.
“I’ve never thought about it before,” he said. “I guess I’ll think about it when I walk over grates.”
Clendenin told Jones that the incident produced extremely low voltage and that the warnings were a precaution. “Not anything that anybody probably could have detected, but our instruments that we use are very sensitive. It was 1 volt.”
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