SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 7, 2014

UPDATE: Buildings evacuated in Salem, many without power, after manhole explosions

Terri Ogan and Tom Dalton
The Salem News

SALEM — Several buildings in downtown Salem remain without power as National Grid workers continue to determine what caused manhole explosions in the city this afternoon.

The Fire Department reported four explosions at 3:06 p.m. Firefighters spotted missing manhole covers on Front and Central streets.

About 300 people lost power after the explosions, according to National Grid.

In addition, five businesses were evacuated after firefighters found elevated levels of carbon monoxide inside, which officials say was caused by the explosions.

"We vented the buildings as best we could," said Acting Deputy Chief Bill Francis, who added that National Grid workers were on the scene. "Right now we don't know exactly what happened."

Other buildings downtown closed because of lack of power. Fire Department headquarters is also without power and is running on a generator, according to the Fire Department.

Francis said the main concern is that some buildings may be without heat for the night. Forecasts call for temperatures in the single digits.

No one was injured during the manhole explosions earlier this afternoon, although one manhole cover hit a parked car, damaging a bumper, according to a report.

Police have closed Central Street, Charter Street, Lafayette Street from Derby Street to Front Street, and Front Street to vehicles and pedestrians.