Manhole fire sparks North Riverdale power outage


More than a hundred homes and dozens of businesses were without power for much of the day Sunday in North Riverdale after a manhole fire at West 235th Street and Oxford Avenue.

The outage began just before 8 a.m., Con Edison spokesman Robert McGee told The Riverdale Press, affecting 115 utility customers — most of whom had power restored nearly 12 hours later. The remaining businesses — including The Press offices on Riverdale Avenue — were restored just before 9 p.m.

Businesses and homes were affected north of West 254th Street and south of West 261st Street, between Riverdale and Palisade avenues, McGee said. 

"We're still out there doing some work," he added, "but all the customers were restored last evening."

Some residents on social media debated whether years of water and salt corroded wiring of ConEd's aging electrical grid, causing wires to burst into flames. The cause of the fire, however, has yet to be determined, McGee said.

"That would happen typically after a snowstorm, where you've got a lot of salt on the street, and there's plows out, and a lot of that salt winds up in manholes," he said. "Sometimes, the salt can affect the electric infrastructure."

What is clear is that there was a failure in the cable. "But these cable failures can be anything," McGee said. "There could be street construction, and maybe a cable gets nicked, which makes the cable more vulnerable. It's always a case-by-case thing."