Two men were injured in a manhole explosion in New York, on Saturday afternoon around 2:30 PM. The men were contractors for Con Edison. They were moving underground telephone lines at the intersection of second Avenue and E. 110 Street in Harlem when the explosion occurred. A Con Edison sign outside the manhole said “Repairing your electrical system”. The two workers suffered burns to their faces. They were rushed to the hospital. One of them was in serious condition. The other one only suffered minor injuries. Witnesses said they heard a loud boom before seeing a lot of smoke coming out of the manhole. The electricity went off in the neighborhood for 30 minutes after the accident. Read more in the New York Daily News
Manhole accidents are unfortunately all too common in New York City in the summertime. During particularly hot days in the city, the air conditioning usage leads to an increase in the consumption of electricity all over the city. Over heated electrical cables then become more susceptible to fail. Often the insulation that protects the cable breaks down. Insulation break down is one of the most common cable failures resulting in manhole explosions.
With 94,000 miles of cable, New York City has the largest underground electrical system in the world. Some of the cables are very old and were installed prior to 1930. These cables are suffering not only from corrosion caused by the salty water leaking down on them during the winter but also from rat bites and vibrations from traffic. According to an article in NBC News manhole explosions are occurring in New York City more than in any other city of the US. A report from Con Edison indicates that in 2014, 3,349 manhole events were recorded during the year. A manhole event is an accident classification that ranges from a few puffs of smoke from a short-circuit to the dangerous and frightening explosions that hurl metal discs weighing anywhere from 70 to 300 pounds toward the heavens. Read the complete article here