Underground fire, explosion reported on Carter Street

The entire intersection of Chestnut and 8th street was shut down while the Fire Department investigated what a dispatch supervisor said was an underground fire that exploded a manhole cover onto the street.

The entire intersection of Chestnut and 8th street was shut down shortly after 5 p.m. this afternoon as responders investigated an underground fire that blew a manhole cover onto the street.

Fire trucks and red caution tape blocked off the street as investigators gathered around the open manhole which was still coughing up smoke as the sun set.

John Pless, a spokesman for EPB, said that the blaze was caused by a faulty wire that overheated.

As the heat built up around the heavy-gauge wire, it went the only direction it could, up, and managed to force the heavy manhole cover out of place.

A dry chemical fire extinguisher was used to extinguish the fire.

The first call came into dispatch at 5:20 p.m. about a hazard in the road, but just a minute later the fire department was sent to check on a report of a fire.

Finally at 5:37 p.m. HCEMS was sent to stand by in case of an injury.

No one was injured in the incident and no utilities were damaged, although responders did initially block public access in case a gas line had been damaged, potentially creating a much more dangerous situation.

Pless also said that no power outages were reported as a result of the fire thanks to redundancies in the system downtown that redirected electricity through still-functioning cables.

By 7:00 p.m. responders began clearing out to re-open the road while an EPB crew remained behind to fix the damage.

Pless said that repairs should be completed sometime tomorrow and only a portion of one lane will remain closed while the crew works.

What caused the wire to overheat and catch fire is still under investigation.