Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004

Car thrown by Con Ed explosion

By Melanie Wallis

A car parked on Howard St. was blown onto its side after a Con Edison junction box blew its lid on Mon., Jan 19 at 11:30 in the morning. Humberto Leon, owner of Open Ceremonies Designer Dress shop, said the explosion was “huge,” and that debris flew into his shop. “The glass that shattered from the car windows was blown to the floor of our door and through the mail slot into the shop,” Leon said.

Con Ed blamed the explosion on salt that is used during the winter to clear the ice on the roads and sidewalks. Brenda Perez, a Con Ed spokesperson, said, “The water mixes with salt and corrodes the insulating materials over the wires. This causes a burnout, where the cable catches fire, and mixes with gases, causing the explosion and propelling the covers.” Perez said the incident involved a “secondary service box,” as opposed to a Con Ed manhole, the latter which also are known to explode, but typically carry higher voltage. East Villager Jodie Lane was fatally electrocuted on Jan. 16 when she fell on the same type of Con Ed service box — but one whose cover was electrified from leaking voltage.

Ginny Pugliese, who lives on the block, said it’s a busy residential street with lots of foot traffic, especially on weekends. “Luckily, no one was hurt as the street was relatively quiet. It is usually very busy with shoppers and street peddlers from Canal St. on weekends.” she said. “The explosion happened just minutes before I was intending to walk my dog.”

The street was closed off to the public and residents were told to stay inside.

Emergency Service Unit police arrived within 30 minutes following the explosion and the car was towed later that day. The car was returned the next day and placed facing the wrong way on a one-way street. “All the windows were blown out and the side of the car was completely crushed,” Pugliese said.

—Melanie Wallis


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