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Manhole Fire Knocks Out Power In Washington Heights As Tri-State Faces Another Day Of Extreme Heat

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- As the Tri-State area faces another day of extreme temperatures, hundreds of people in Manhattan were left sweltering in the heat after a manhole fire knocked out power early Thursday morning.

The manhole fire happened on West 190th Street near Wadsworth Terrace in Washington Heights.

Cell phone video captured the flames shooting from the manhole. Andrew Peralta said it was a scary sight when he was coming home from work.

"I just moved back because I didn't know what was gonna happen," he told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

Jose Bernal-Lopez lives on the block and evacuated on his own when he saw the flames.

"I actually came outside because I was afraid," he said. "I thought something might happen to the building."

The FDNY put water on the smoking manhole and no one was hurt, but the fire knocked out power to 785 customers. Con Edison says at least seven apartment buildings on Wadsworth Terrace and nearby Fairview Avenue lost electricity.

"Dark, I'm very hot," said resident Titi Concepcion. "Super hot."

"Right now, I think we can take it but I don't know about later on," said resident Francisco Fuerte.

"It's going to be horrible because the temperatures are going to be really high today," another woman told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "No fan, no air conditioning, no refrigerator, no ice."

Manhole Fire Knocks Out Power In Washington Heights

"I'm so furious right now," said resident Will Crafton. "I don't have electricity. I'm hot."

Con Ed says it's trying to figure out exactly what caused the fire. Crews are replacing the burned underground cables to get the power back up and running and hopes to have power restored by 7 p.m.

Many residents say although it's an uncomfortable inconvenience, they're glad to see Con Ed working on the problem.

"Because we know it's going to fix it," Concepcion said. "I hope it's fast!"

The hazy, hot and humid conditions have been keeping Con Ed crews busy all week.

The utility says factors that lead to summer blackouts include heat and humidity, fluctuations in power demand and damage from severe winters.

"A lot of times you'll have damage during the winter that materializes in the summer as these electrical systems are really tested," said Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin.

While the 785 customers without power Thursday is out of more than three million the utility serves, Con Ed says every single customer is important.

Scattered outages were also reported Thursday morning around New Jersey and on Long Island.

As the hot weather continues to put pressure on the power grid, residents around the Tri-State area are doing what they can to beat the heat.

Many parents are trying to keep their kids safe without sacrificing summer fun.

"We definitely have to be indoors around noon," Palisades Park parent Sal Youn told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock. "It's just too overwhelming for them."

A heat advisory remains in effect until 8 p.m. for New York City while an excessive heat warning remains in effect for parts of New Jersey until 6 p.m.

CHECK: Forecast | Find A Cooling Center | Stay Safe | Chill Out | Share Pics: How You Beat The Heat

Though forecasters say the heat and humidity will combine to make it feel like the upper 90s, some say the breezy conditions Thursday gave some relief.

"It's breezy today," said Leonia resident Terry Hamburger. "At least there's a little air stirring so we're really happy with it."

"Today is very cool," said Ridge Field Park resident Maritza Rangel. "I like it."

William Molina says his son doesn't feel the heat either when he's making his move down the soccer field.

"He loves it," Molina said. "Doesn't feel it at all."

With the kids focused on fun, Cedar Stars Academy camp director Juan Santamaria says it's their job to make sure they stay cool and hydrated.

"Plenty of breaks throughout the day," he said. "We have a hose over there and water them down as much as we can, a lot of sunblock, of course."

Dr. Ivan Miller, director of the emergency department at Westchester Medical Center, said there can be a cumulative effect after several days of extreme heat.

Tri-State Faces Another Day Of Extreme Heat

"It tends to creep up on people," he told WCBS 880's Sean Adams. "Patients who are severely affected by heat come in with very high fevers, ironically, even higher than the ambient temperatures, sometimes 104, 105 degrees."

Officials say it's important to drink plenty of water, stay in air-conditioned places, limit time in the sun if you do go outside and check on neighbors who are elderly or may have health conditions.

For those who don't have air conditioning in New York City, more than 500 cooling centers have been opened across the five boroughs. To find a cooling center near you, call 311 or click here.

Some thunderstorms and heavy rain are expected to cool things down a bit Thursday, but the National Weather Service says temperatures are likely to remain in the 90s for the rest of the week.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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