A almost century-old steam pipe exploded beneath Fifth Avenue in Manhattan early Thursday, hurling chunks of asphalt, sending a geyser of white vapour 10 storeys into the air and forcing the evacuation of 28 buildings.
The cause of the blast was not immediately determined. The utility also promised to reimburse people for the clothes they lost and provide financial assistance to cover the costs of finding a place to stay during the cleanup. "That's obviously a real concern to us", de Blasio said at a Thursday afternoon news conference near the site of the blast at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street.
City officials said the hole in the street caused by the rupture was about the length of 1 1/2 half cars, and that it was one auto length wide.
"Like so much of our infrastructure in NY, the steam infrastructure is getting older and needs to be upgraded", said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of New York's Center for an Urban Future, a nonpartisan policy organization.
The incident occurred at around 6:40 AM on the on Fifth Avenue between 22nd and 21st streets, the CBS reports.
A utility employee works at the scene of a high pressure steam explosion on Fifth Avenue in NY. They will take out the pipe and try to figure out what happened.
Vreeland had been on the way to his office at about 7:30 a.m. when he saw the giant plume of smoke.
"It was stupid", Vreeland said.
As for the subways, R and W trains are bypassing 23rd Street in both directions, MTA officials said.
Hundreds of residents in Manhattan's Flatiron District were shut out of their homes and businesses, a day after the explosion spewed vapor into the air. A network of steam piping meanders underneath New York City, and explosions are not uncommon. Dozens of people were injured; some suffered terrible burns or had limbs severed.
Broadcast images showed a large plume of white steam billowing high into the air and the red flashing lights of responder vehicles. For a long time, asbestos was used in insulation, water supply lines, roof shingles, break pads, and numerous other products.
Buildings along several blocks of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan were evacuated as a precaution. No one was injured. Also, parts of lower Fifth Avenue could be closed. Con Edison says crews have been working to isolate the steam rupture.
Consolidated Edison Inc., which operates New York's steam infrastructure, said its system is maintained and "operates well most of the time". MTA buses were also detoured.