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Manhole Explosion Shatters Window In Hell's Kitchen, Causes Traffic Mess

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A manhole explosion in Hell's Kitchen left glass shattered Friday, and tied up traffic for hours.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, the explosion caused so much damage that crews planned to be on the scene overnight.

An underground explosion sent the manhole cover flying at around 11:38 a.m. at 45th Street and Ninth Avenue.

Witnesses estimated the manhole cover shot some 15 feet in the air, CBS2's Carlin reported. It landed on a fire hydrant.

No one was hurt, but a window on the fifth floor of a nearby building was broken.

"Suddenly, I take a video and a really big explosion," said Lea DeBressy of Astoria, Queens.

DeBressy's 12-second smartphone video packed a wallop. Her camera was rolling when the underground explosion rocked the intersection, sending a fireball roaring out of the ground.

The glass is heard shattering on the video.

"We were just over there and we heard a huge explosion and we all just screamed and ran out of juice bar -- we thought everything blew up behind us," said Midtown resident Resha Swapp.

"Well, the flames are blowing up -- it was really scary and really fast," said Thibault Delaunay of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

A total of 14 blocks of Ninth Avenue were closed for the start of the Friday evening commute. The road later reopened, but traffic jams persisted for hours afterward and drivers' tempers flared.

"I need to get to Jersey right now," one woman said. "I don't think it's going to happen for another two hours, so I'm feeling pretty not OK."

Con Ed said the likely explanation is that underground cables overheated, sparked and blew -- possibly taxed by all the extra energy demands of a hot day, Carlin reported.

The repair job was expected to continue through the night.


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