Home Fire News 2 manhole explosions rock downtown Boston, woman suffers burns and buildings evacuated

2 manhole explosions rock downtown Boston, woman suffers burns and buildings evacuated

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Todd Prussman, Marie Szaniszlo

Boston Herald

One person was injured, two buildings were evacuated and traffic was diverted Thursday morning after two manhole explosions rocked the downtown.

The victim was a woman who suffered burns, said Deputy Fire Chief Brian Tully. Tully was uncertain how severe her injuries were, but he said she was able to walk to an ambulance on her own. She was transported to Tufts Medical Center, he said.

“When we arrived, we had smoke issued from two manholes” Tully said.

A window at 10 High Street was shattered at about 8:40 a.m., and that building as well as 175 Federal St. had to be evacuated.

Firefighters are monitoring for carbon monoxide and have large fans in place to drop the levels of the deadly gas. Firefighters initially found elevated levels in both buildings, Boston Fire Department spokesman Brian Alkins said, but levels in 175 Federal St. are back to normal.

“We’ll make a decision on whether the buildings can be occupied later today,” Tully said.

The cause of the explosions may have been a “pressure situation,” resulting from high energy use in the area and a breakdown of equipment, Tully said. However, crews from Everwource, NStar and National Grid at the scene will make a determination of the actual cause.

“The equipment is being overused, overtaxed, and eventually once in a while something breaks,” Tully said. “But I believe the energy system in our city is safe, and…I wouldn’t worry about that.”

State Police shut down on-ramps to Interstate 93 at Purchase Street and South Station during the initial response. Those ramps have since been reopened.

— Developing

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