Cause of Albany manhole explosions still unknown
Posted at: 09/20/2012 6:26 PM
| Updated at: 09/20/2012 9:11 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
ALBANY - It was our first glimpse from a video released by Albany County's Sheriff: a firey explosion shooting into the sky, erupting from a manhole Wednesday beneath a city street.
It's what some some employees at the Steuben Athletic Club said, they saw first hand.
"I'm behind the desk so I ran out front to see if everyone was okay they were running back into the building. The manhole cover had just blown 20-feet into the air it's pretty scary," said Derrick Rowland, Operations Manager.
Fire crews said the underground blaze ripped across electrical cables, blowing manholes off their settings. Parts of North Pearl Street were shut down. Several buildings were evacuated after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected in basements.
On Thursday, most businesses reopened, and customers lunched outside as crews worked on repairs.
Electrical cables came out of the vaults charred and sooty. Now investigators want to know how they caught fire in the first place?
"When we take the old cable out, we're certainly going to be looking at that. We're going to be looking at the fire damage that's down in the vaults the investigation is going to take some time to complete," said Patrick Stella, National Grid spokesman.
And at Truman's Jewelers, which had to close during the evacuation, there are concerns that business will slow down, because of repair trucks in the street. The owner wanted to know, what's being done to prevent this from happening again.
"Maybe we need a better system of checks on why we did have this issue and could it happen again," Paul Crabbe said.
Stella said the search for a cause may take several weeks.
He added that these incidents are rare, and that the company will work with the city of Albany to improve the electrical system and try to prevent future fire or manhole hazards.