NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A potentially deadly cocktail of melting snow, road salt, and thousands of volts of electricity triggered a series of terrifying explosions early Monday morning on West 86th Street.
Sometime after 1 a.m., flames were seen shooting from a manhole cover. The loud sounds caused Barbara Goodstein’s dog, Lady, to frantically wake up.
Goodstein said she had “no idea why” her dog was jumping all over her and was “anxious to get out.”
“I took her out and the whole street was blowing up with manhole covers blowing up and flames shooting out of them,” she told CBS 2’s Don Dahler.
Josh Volinski, who has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years, said the explosions were nothing new.
“We have problems here weekly and very often daily,” he said, “frequent problems of the infrastructure giving out.”
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The explosions are brought on by snow and ice melting into the underground electrical pipes. Road salt and water create a corrosive mix that can degrade the insulation covering the electrical wires. That, in turn, can spark a fire and build up gasses resulting in an explosion.
In a statement, Con-Ed called the phenomenon a “seasonal issue.”
“There’s a direct correlation between the volume (of snow) that goes onto the city streets and these incidents,” the statement said.
Con-Ed workers continue to drain the volatile mixture of water and salt from the underground pipes before electricians replace the damaged wires. They say there’s little that can be done to prevent the manhole fires from happening.