Explosions Blow Off Manhole Covers in Indy


Five manhole covers blew off in an apparent series of explosions in downtown Indianapolis early Sunday.

The explosions happened in the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue just after 6:30 a.m., firefighters said.

Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Burris said fire crews had been dispatched to the area on reports of a strong gas odor.

Moments later, the first of five manhole covers exploded at Massachusetts Avenue and New Jersey Street, "with such significant force as to wake the other firefighters still at the station," Burris said. "Flames were visible from the manhole for some time before they extinguished."

The next four manhole covers exploded within minutes, leaving a large, gaping hole in the middle of the street.

No injuries were reported, but several streets were closed and a window was broken at the Athenaeum.

The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and New Jersey Street, along with the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and North Street, were shut down Sunday morning. The roads are expected to remain closed for most of the day, Burris said.

"From all indications, the explosion that occurred this morning at the intersection of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Michigan in Indianapolis, does not appear to be natural gas-related," read a statement from Arish Rountree, corporate affairs coordinator for Citizens Energy Group. "Investigations by Citizens Gas and Indianapolis Power and Light are continuing."

Indianapolis Power and Light crews said the power was out at the Athenaeum. Ticket holders were advised to call ahead to make sure events scheduled for Sunday proceed as planned.

IPL crews also shut off the power at The Chatterbox for a short time during the investigation.

There were two similar incidents in August 2010 in the same general area. Both were blamed on electrical problems underground.

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