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Manhole Explosion Season is Real & It’s Happening Now—What You Should Know

smoking manhole in middle of new york city street

The streets of New York City are already notoriously dangerous, yet a century-old problem has recently come to light that makes walking and driving through our city even more unpredictable than usual. Manhole explosions, triggered by cold winter weather, are occurring multiple times a day across NYC.

The explosions are mainly caused by aging underground electrical wires coming into contact with snow melt mixed with ice-reducing salt spread that flows down the drains, which corrodes the wiring and causes it to combust in cold weather. This odd phenomenon is anything but rare—firefighters have responded to an average of three manhole explosion fires a day during the months of January and February for the past decade.

So, what does this have to do with personal injury? These manhole explosions have caused several car accidents, raising the question of who is to blame for the injuries sustained by this terrifying incidents.

Osman Bah, a former cab driver, was driving his taxi through Midtown in November 2014 when an underground explosion sent a manhole cover crashing though his windshield. He suffered catastrophic injuries which crippled half of his body and is no longer able to work.

Bah sued Con Edison and the city of New York for his injuries in 2015. Con Ed reportedly employs their own team of lawyers just to fight off such lawsuits. Many of these suits are ongoing.

Electrical fires which set off manhole covers have been a problem in NYC since the city was electrified in the early 1900s. The explosions result in flaming debris and toxic gases like carbon monoxide being blown through the air, as well as an ear-splitting sound which can set off car alarms and shatter windows.

Legislative action has been proposed, but still not passed, and research remains scarce. Yet while efforts to combat this issue have gained little ground, the problem persists.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident caused by a manhole explosion, contact Belushin Law Firm, P.C. today. Our Brooklyn car accident and municipal claims attorneys will meet with you for free to discuss your potential case.