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Residents Describe Hearing Explosions After Defective Cable Causes Manhole Fires In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A series of manhole explosions rocked a Queens neighborhood Monday, damaging several cars parked cars and leaving dozens without power.

Just before 11 p.m., an electrical fire shot blue flames out of a manhole on Queens Boulevard between 67th and 68th avenues in Forest Hills.

Some people who live nearby captured one of the blasts on video. In a matter of minutes, two more explosions sent smoke billowing into the air.

"Saw a huge fire, we saw basically fireworks exploding from our balcony from this manhole cover over here," resident Dana Ben Benyamin told CBS2's Magdalena Doris.

"It sounded like a big explosion, like a bomb. Everyone in the building thought it was a bomb," said resident Rio Yonathan. "Everyone in the building was terrified. We all went down and then the cops were like, 'Get inside.'"

"It was very loud. It shook the whole building," another neighbor told 1010 WINS' Samantha Liebman.

"Huge explosion, it sounds so badly," said a man who works at a nearby 7-Eleven. "It shake the windows and everything."

Con Edison officials told CBS2 the blasts were caused by defective cables underground.

"Then all of a sudden I saw huge pieces, I couldn't tell if they were -- if they were metal or concrete, but I saw three huge pieces fly," said Ben Benyamin.

That airborne debris landed on parked cars, cracking windshields and crushing hoods. It took the FDNY nearly two hours to extinguish the raging flames underground.

Con Ed said no one was working underground at the time.

No injuries were reported, but one building in the neighborhood was left without power.

"Good thing nobody got hurt," one resident said. "I mean, the damage to the cars is tremendous."

Crews are still working to repair the defective cables. As of 5 p.m., about 100 residents were still without power.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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