An underground explosion sent five manhole covers shooting skyward around noon and shattered the quiet of brownstone-lined Brooklyn Heights streets.
Fire officials were investigating whether a private contractor installing a gas meter accidentally hit an electrical line, sparking a gas leak and knocking power out in the New York City Transit Authority’s substation underneath Willow Place.
“The streets were buckled right in the middle,” said resident Suzanne Bagert, 41, who saw smoke coming from a manhole at the intersection of Willow and Joralemon Street. “The manhole cover was split in two.”
Firefighters evacuated her, her 15-month-old daughter and her Yorkshire terrier along with the residents of at least 10 other buildings. No injuries were reported.
“I thought it was related to the construction in the area,” said Rostam Batmanglij, 26, a keyboardist for the band Vampire Weekend, who was on the phone with a Norwegian newspaper when he heard “metal hitting the ground.” Unfazed, he left his home to pick up his laundry, but found his route home blocked because of street closures.
Residents returned to their buildings around 4 p.m. Disruptions on the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains were fixed by 5:35 p.m., transit officials said.