Steam Pipe Explosion: Yellowstone Park Comes to NYC

It was a day that had started with deafening thunderstorms, torrential rain, and a rainbow.

After the steam pipe exploded late yesterday afternoon, I began receiving phone calls and text messages from folks wondering what was going on. Nothing had hit the internet or the news channels yet, but already the rumors had begun to fly around town of a huge explosion in midtown. Some said a transformer blew up but all described some form of dirt or dust.

My boyfriend texted me describing a woman he had seen a few blocks from the incident wandering the street dazed, covered from head to toe in mud, while strangers approached asking if she was okay. He said she seemed in shock, and was obviously in close proximity to the explosion at the time it happened.

A day after, authorities warn of residual danger: “Officials took eight air samples in the area around the explosion, and none came back positive for asbestos, the emergency-management agency said. But six of 10 samples of debris and dust came back positive. City engineers warned that up to six feet surrounding the giant hole might be in danger of further collapse. Stretches of several major thoroughfares remained closed early Thursday, and city officials said workers would not be allowed into office buildings in a zone that covered several blocks.”

Tragically, one person died due to cardiac arrest. More than 20 people were injured. The cause? A steam pipe installed in 1924. Sometimes one forgets that below the streets of Manhattan there is a city as complex as the one above, until an incident like this provides a frightening reminder.

After the Blast in Midtown [wabc- new york]

Posted July 19, 2007 at 8:24am ETC by Andy Towle
in New York, News