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Exploding Manholes Set Cars On Fire, Cut Power In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Several manholes exploded in Brooklyn on Monday, setting cars on fire and sending people running for their safety.

As CBS 2's Alice Gainer reported, dozens of families were left without power following the explosions in Bushwick on Monday afternoon. As late as 9 p.m., power was still out for several customers, and smoke was still billowing on and off from one of the manholes that exploded.

Not one, and not two, but three manhole covers blew along Menahan Street near Wyckoff Avenue, witnesses said.

"I seen that there was smoke coming from out of there. So when I looked and saw that, that's when I started telling people to get out; something's going to blow," Arlene Baker said.

And when the manholes did blow, at least two had cars sitting on top of them. Hernan Gonzalez came home to find his car burned to a crisp on the bottom with the bumper off, with the manhole still smoking underneath.

"I haven't had a chance to look at nothing right now. I don't want to look at nothing for now, because it's hot, so I got to wait for that," Gonzalez said.

Overhead wires also caught fire. Con Edison said a cable underground gave out, causing a chain reaction.

"It blew up and hit the car under. At least he took his car out. That was the first one that blew up, and then the one over there, and then that one over here," said witness Henry Alicen, pointing out the manholes.

Despite all the damage, no one was seriously injured – for which Gonzalez said he was grateful.

"It's a car," he said. "Your life is very important. A car is a car."

Con Edison reported 153 customers were without power Monday night, according to 1010 WINS. Power should be restored to all customers by 11 a.m. Tuesday, Con Ed said.

By 11 p.m., power had been restored to about half of the affected customers, Gainer reported.

The blast was blamed on some sort of failure of underground equipment, but the specific equipment at issue has not been determined, 1010 WINS reported.

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