Small explosion sends manhole cover sky high

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SALT LAKE CITY — A small explosion in downtown Salt Lake blew a manhole cover off the street and forced evacuations at nearby businesses. Rocky Mountain Power said that aging power lines underground may have caused the explosion.

Fire officials have turned the scene over to Rocky Mountain Power, which will investigate the explosion. One man working inside a nearby business told KSL felt a shudder and then his lights flickered. Another woman said she lost power for a second. The intersection of 300 South and 200 East was closed for some time.

"Our computers kinda went zap, said Teri Thomas of Henrie Dry Cleaners. "It kinda knocked us out for a minute."

At about 4:30 pm, haz-mat and heavy rescue teams lowered a camera down the 12-foot-deep manhole. Earlier, there was evidence of smoke but the camera showed no sign of an existing fire.

There is a power vault that runs underground, which is similar to a power line. Fire officials said there are no sewer and gas lines in that vault.

No one was hurt when the manhole covers blew off at the intersection, just before 3:00 p.m. today. There were reports of some power outages, but all power has been restored. Two business near the intersection were evacuated and some others voluntarily closed for the day.

One crew member did say that this is the third time this has happened in two weeks, and again blamed aging power lines.


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