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CBS2 Exclusive: Woman, 91, Describes Being Hit With Glass When Manhole Cover Went Flying

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Con Edison said 600 fires have erupted in New York City manholes since Sunday, and one woman was speaking after being hospitalized from an explosion earlier this week.

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported Friday night, Marge Contorno, 91, of Brooklyn, was back home Friday night after two days in the hospital.

"I'm feeling pretty good," she said. "I'm a little weak."

On Monday, a fire started in a manhole on Prospect Park West between Fifth and Sixth streets in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It sparked a chain reaction that ended with a gash on Contorno's forehead.

The vented manhole cover blew off, hitting a man as he walked his dog on the street, and knocking out windows in the Prospect Park West building where Contorno resides.

"I heard this big noise; explode, and all the glass on the window hit me in the face," she said.

Contorno lives all the way on the third floor of the building. Somehow, debris from the exploding manhole cover shattered her bathroom window.

"I got scared when I saw the blood; I didn't know what it was," Contorno said. "Then they told me it was a manhole explosion."

Firefighters came up to Contorno's door, and rushed her to the hospital. Her bathroom window was boarded up four days later.

Manhole fires can spark in the winter, when salt corrodes cables underground.

"When that noise went off, the glass just broke. It hit me in the face and I had a bloody nose," Contorno said. "I was a little wobbly; and I was scared."

The other victims were not so lucky. The man walking his dog was hit in the head, and the dog was also severely injured in the impact.

But Contorno was not letting the incident get her down.

"You have a long life ahead of you, right?" Schneider asked her.

"It looks that way," she replied with a laugh. "Yes, it looks that way."

Con Edison confirmed that it has responded to about 600 manhole fires citywide since Sunday. The latest fires were reported Friday night at 32-45 Leavitt St. in Queens, and briefly prompted the evacuation of a small apartment building, officials told CBS2.

Five years ago, Con Edison began installing vented covers that let trapped gases escape, but it's not a perfect solution, as the manhole in the Park Slope incident was vented.

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