Volume 17 • Issue 26 | Nov. 19 - 25, 2004



Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

Repair workers were on Water St. trying to restore phone service.

Con Ed fire disrupts phone service

A fire and explosion in two Con Edison manholes on Wall St. at the corner of Front St. at about 4 a.m. Wed. Nov. 17 spread to a nearby Verizon manhole and damaged fiber and copper cables, leaving financial firms and other Downtown business without telephone service.

Con Edison said that service to its customers was not interrupted, but a Verizon spokesperson said the company had received 150 trouble reports from the Wall St. area.

Daniel Diaz, a Verizon spokesperson, said on Thursday afternoon that crews were working round the clock to restore service. Verizon also installed public pay phones at Front and Wall Sts.

Firefighters had to use foam because of the electrical nature of the fires. Debris, the residue of foam and fumes generated by the fire prevented crews from going into the Verizon manhole for several hours, Diaz said. “We didn’t get access to the manhole to assess the damage until one or two o’clock,” said Diaz.

Repair crews are working 24 hours but it could be several days before complete phone and cable service is restored to all customers, Diaz added.

Chris Olert, a Con Edison spokesperson, said the company is still investigating the cause of the fire. But he said that a Verizon crew had been working on the street enlarging a phone company manhole for several hours before the fire broke out.

—Albert Amateau



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