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Manhole Explosions Cause Power Outage in Downtown Salem

The manhole explosions were on Central Street.

Aftermath of manhole explosions in downtown Salem on Jan. 7, 2014. Credit: Owen Boss
Aftermath of manhole explosions in downtown Salem on Jan. 7, 2014. Credit: Owen Boss
Updated 8 p.m.: Further update from National Grid indicates that the power outage was not gas related, but due to a transformer overload. Most power should be restored by 8pm with the balance on between 10 and 12 tonight. Crews have been mobilized and are working hard in very cold conditions to address the circumstances.

Updated 4:40 p.m.:
Fire Chief David Cody tells Patch investigators don't have a cause for the explosions yet, but that National Grid gas workers are on scene.

An electrical box behind the Boutique on Front Street had its cover blown off by the explosions. 

Updated 4:25 p.m.:
A Patch editor on scene says traffic is tied up through downtown Salem as a result of the street closures. National Grid is on scene investigating. The Fire Department has no immediate information on what happened, but when they do we will bring it to you.

Three manhole covers exploded. There continues to be a lot of activity by workers and public safety officials, especially near Red's.

Updated 4 p.m.: One of the manhole covers reportedly struck a vehicle. Emergency personnel going in and out of Reds Sandwich Shop, according to scanner reports.

Updated 3:50 p.m.
:

The city of Salem issued the following statement: 

At approximately 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, several manholes on Central Street exploded.

No one was injured. According to National Grid approximately 300 people have lost power.

Salem Fire Department is on the scene and National Grid is at work to restore power.

At this time, Salem Police have closed Central Street, Charter Street, Lafayette Street from Derby Street to Front Street, and Front Street. These roadways have been closed to vehicles and pedestrians.

Original Post:


We're receiving reports of a widespread power outage in downtown Salem.

The National Grid Power Outage Map above indicates that 310 customers were without power shortly after 3 p.m. 

We will post updates as information is released.

Is your power out? 

Let us know in the comments section below
Tonya January 07, 2014 at 03:48 PM
I'm downtown and we still have power, but we heard 3 really really loud booms around 3pm. Now there are emergency personnel going in and out of Red's Sandwich Shop--- anyone know what's going on?
Leo January 07, 2014 at 03:53 PM
my power is out at 5 Derby square
ann massey January 07, 2014 at 03:59 PM
We're here in our little Rouge haven...heard the noise but we have power and we're right around the corner!
Mike Caggiano January 07, 2014 at 04:27 PM
The car that was damaged was on Front St. The transformer on the end of the building also blew. High levels of CO2 in the building basement. No power and no cause of what happened yet. Fire, police and national grid on the scene.
That Girl January 07, 2014 at 04:52 PM
National Grid's outage website is such a joke. It just shows there are outages in Salem, no specific street listings. I guess I'll be surprised when I get home from work!
Robert Polansky January 07, 2014 at 06:36 PM
I recall similar manhole explosions on Crombie Street in August of 2010. National Grid should investigate the causes of these events before somebody gets hurt.
ForaBetterSalem January 07, 2014 at 06:56 PM
Why does this happen repeatedly in Salem? Worries me re CO2. And if my CO2 detectors are plugged into electrical outlets but have no electricity bc of a co2 issue this can't be good? Very very cold, navigating around Condo by the light on my cell phone and now possibly have co2 poisoning :). Crappy night
Rob January 08, 2014 at 12:28 AM
I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT, JUST BY LOOKING AT ALL THE ELECTRICAL LEADS CONNECTED TO IT. FOR MANHOLES TO EXPLODE, YOU HAVE AN UNDERGROUND TRUNK LEAD IN IS THAT MANHOLE, GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW OLD THAT ELECTRICAL LEAD IS, ALL IT REALLY TAKES IS ONE ARC, A COMPOSED BUILDUP OF OXYGEN AND METHANE GAS INSIDE THE MANHOLE AND YOU HAVE A MASSIVE EXPLOSION, THAT LEAD THAT WAS INSIDE THE MANHOLE OBVIOUSLY ARCED OUT AND SIMULTANEOUSLY BOTH BLEW UP THE TRANSFORMER AND THE MANHOLE. MAYOR DRISCOLL IS BASICALLY AND I QUOTE "BUILDING SALEM" ON A FAILING INFRASTRUCTURE WHEN YOU HAVE MAJOR ELECTRICAL, WATER AND SEWER FAILURES ALL OVER THE CITY. ITS A TOPIC THAT IS BEING WIDELY OVERLOOKED BY THE MAYOR.

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