Vehicles Parked Nearby Left Heavily Charred

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two manhole fires erupted in Queens early Thursday morning, sending five people to the hospital and charring vehicles parked nearby.

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It happened around 1 a.m. at the intersection of 75th Street and 88th Avenue in Woodhaven.

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“We thought it was a bomb. It was like an explosion, two cars were on fire, it was chaos,” said resident Gilberto Lopez, who lives just a few feet away. “About six stories high, that’s how much the fire went up. The smoke went all the way up.”

“I said oh my God, the flames went higher, the car’s engulfed and it’s spreading to the car behind it,” said nearby resident Ines Sanabria.

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The fire resulted from “a failure of underground electrical delivery equipment,” Con Edison spokesman Allan Drury said.

Five people were taken to a hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation and released.

About a dozen customers lost power, but it was restored at 6 a.m., officials said. By mid-morning, the scorched cars had been towed from the scene.

Crews were expected to spend several hours cutting and isolating the burnt cables from the rest of the system.

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