Steam Pipe Explosion in NYC Prompts Asbestos Warning

NYC, New York – A steam pipe exploded beneath Fifth Avenue in Manhattan early Thursday, sending chunks of asphalt flying, a geyser of billowing white steam stories into the air, and forcing pedestrians to take cover.

No injuries were reported, but Con Ed, which owns the subterranean pipe, warned people who may have gotten material on them to remove their clothes and shower immediately as a precaution against possible asbestos.

The FDNY reported that the explosion, which occurred at about 6:40 a.m. ET at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street prompted evacuations of at least 28 buildings, adding that five minor injuries had been reported.

WABC reported there also were manhole explosions from West 19th Street to West 21st streets. Some subway trains were bypassing the area.

The energy company warned people to stay away from the area as a safety precaution. Fifth Avenue from 20th to 23rd streets was also shut down.

The FDNY said that while it was still waiting on lab results to see whether asbestos was present, it was acting as if they would be positive.