Underground Explosion In Providence Lifts Eight Manhole Covers

Nov 19, 2013

Dozens of people were evacuated from buildings on the outskirts of downtown Providence following an underground explosion yesterday.

Police evacuated a portion of the Jewelry District in Providence, while investigating the cause of the underground explosion.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

National grid confirmed that the explosion was caused by pressure built up inside an underground utility vault.

Sarah Longley from was working in the Women and Infants building on Chestnut Street only feet away from the explosion.

“When I came out of the building on Chestnut Street around the corner on Elm Street. I saw a fireball come out of the manhole cover, and the manhole cover blew probably thirty, forty feet up in the air,” said Longley.

Providence police say a total of eight manhole covers were propelled into the air due to the force of the explosion.

Pam O’Hara was working in a building only a few feet away from the explosion, and said she could feel each successive blast.

“The first one shook the building.  So we were all sort of alarmed and got up and watched out the windows.  And the second one was pretty soon after.  And the third was also very large and shook the building one,” said O’Hara.

The area surrounding the explosion was evacuated by police and fire for most of the day.

Two people were hurt, but officials say their injuries were minor.

National Grid is still investigating the exact cause of the explosion.

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