Underground electrical fires spark multiple explosions downtown

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Explosions in downtown Buffalo near the intersection of Franklin and West Tupper forced several people to evacuate from a nearby building Sunday afternoon.

The area was covered in smoke, billowing out from manholes. There were three minor explosions in total, which National Grid believes to have been the result of an underground electrical fire. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Two employees of Buffalo Proper saw the smoke, felt those explosions, and acted fast.

Matthew Quirey and Josh Levine were busy preparing for round two of new brunch service at Buffalo Proper on Sunday morning when they felt the ground shake. They described it as surreal.

“We were just getting ready and just starting to get set up. And smoke started coming out of this manhole cover here,” Levine told News 4.

Quirky added, “When Josh noticed the lights were flickering and we see the thick black smoke coming out of the manhole it seemed very clear to us there was a fire.”

Levine grabbed a fire extinguisher and Quirey called 911.

“Apparently the wires in the manholes were burning and there were some small explosions happening so National Grid arrived on location,” explained Capt. Keith Burke, Buffalo Fire Department.

National Grid is still trying to determine what caused the fires. The pressure from the smoke and flames caused the manhole covers to pop off.

Richard Planavsky is a nearby resident who witnessed it all. “I could see there was a fire so I went back to Main Street to my car and I heard one go ‘Boom!’,” he said.

No one was injured, but a few buildings in the area were evacuated as a precaution.

National Grid will be working overnight to make all necessary repairs. The roads will likely reopen Monday morning.

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