Smoking Manhole Rattles Union Square Commuters [Updated]

Smoke gushing from a manhole at Broadway and 17th Street rattled commuters in Union Square this evening.

“A big boom and black smoke at the NE corner of 17th and Broadway,” tweeted the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. “It was NOT our truck blowing up. What’s going on?”

Others tweeted about an explosion, but a ConEd spokesperson said there was no explosion when the manhole started smoking at 5:30 p.m. He said there were no injuries or power outages as a result of the smoke, the cause of which is currently under investigation.

A fire department spokesperson said the smoke was quickly brought under control.

The event unnerved some already shaken up by this morning’s shooting near the Empire State Building.

Update | 6:55 p.m. Our outgoing summer reporter Melvin Felix (we’ll miss him!) sends this photo from the scene.

manhole2Melvin Felix
Rafiqi halal cart and manholeMelvin Felix

Update | 7:31 p.m. Karim Zidane, who was working at the Rafiqi’s halal cart, said he was alerted to the incident by a pedestrian’s shriek. “I was serving my customer and there was a big scream,” he said. “I heard the girl more than I heard the boom. She was passing by. She scared us.”

He said he called the fire department and within five minutes the scene was full of spectators and ConEd workers. “I kept serving my customers,” he said. “But it’s crazy. It’s very dangerous.”

“The day before yesterday,” he added, “the guys came to fix two others. They left this one alone.”

Update | 1:45 p.m. Here’s Video of Yesterday’s Manhole Madness