Steam Pipe Explosion in NYC

I was still at work when about 6pm there was a loud sustained sound and the lights flickered.  I walked out of my office and found that the office still had a number of people, including three of my staff.  We could hear the sound coming from outside of the building (okay, we weren’t sure it was outside and we had no idea what it was).   I went to the window to check when one of the other staff said there was “something going on”.  I got to the window and noted that there was indeed a large amount of steam coming from below/outside.

To me, it seemed an obvious steam pipe explosion, but I honestly was only guessing with a lot of evidence.  I could see the steam rising about 10 to 15 stories, but it was obviously steam and not smoke.  I went back to my office to see if there was a flash-news story on it, but nothing.  Of course, we were all preparing to evacuate at that point and I sent my staff home and started telling other to do so, too.  I went into “fire marshal mode” and started to go throughout the floor to find and alert people.  It was obviously time to leave.

We went out via the fire escape.  I went to the “official gathering” point, but it was only two of us there.  Everyone else had gone homeward.

The sound was in the direction of my home:  41st Street.  So, I started heading in the direction, but via 39th Street.  When I got to Lexington, I could see it.  Unbelievable!!!  A huge geyser about 30 feet wide just shooting skyward like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I watched for about a minute before the cops started rousting us out of there.  I went back to 37th Street just to keep watching.  Some people were a bit fearful, but mostly it was awe and wonder and worry at it.  Could the explosive pressure go in our direction and sort of “unzip” the street?  It certainly seemed strong enough.  After a couple of more minutes, I thought about an issue that I wanted to fix:  emergency supplies.

I live 3 blocks away from the explosion.  I went down to the 2nd Avenue “Gristides” supermarket on 40th to pick up water (would my water pressure be affected?) and some overnight food.  I expected a big line, but it was nearly empty.  I left and then got my other surprise.  My street on 41st had a perfect view of the eruption.  It even has a slight rise so everyone had a view.  I got there and stood, once again, in awe of it.  It was at least 3 times further away than my previous view, but it was plenty.

I ran into a guy who was covered with mud.  He had been right on the spot when it happened and had obviously been knocked down/fallen (his pants were ripped and he was splattered all over with mud).  He said he really couldn’t describe the event as it happened so fast.  He was in a bit of a daze, but seemed fine.

And, yes, the explosion happened exactly on my daily path to/from work.  I hope the office is open tomorrow.

(from DrudgeReport) 

 About the only significant thing that I can say about this right now is that there’s been a lot of work at that intersection over the winter.  There hasn’t been anything recently though.

 -H

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