Hundreds evacuated after underground blaze causes CO poisoning in NY
By Luis Perez
A smoldering electrical fire beneath a Brooklyn street sparked carbon monoxide poisoning yesterday, leaving two women unconscious and forcing hundreds of people from their homes, officials said.
The fire, which officials said likely was caused by contact between salt and worn electrical wires, originated beneath a manhole cover on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Sunset Park, fire officials said.
Firefighters arrived at about 12:15 p.m., and took carbon monoxide readings in several buildings on the street, fire officials said.
Two women who live on the street - described by officials as a 35-year-old mother and an elderly woman - were unconscious when they were evacuated from buildings there, fire officials said.
The older woman was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where she was placed in a hyperbaric chamber, officials said. The other victim was taken to Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn with serious monoxide poisoning, officials said.
Five other people were treated at area hospitals after they complained to EMTs of nausea and dizziness, officials said.
Red Cross officials gave some of the residents water and oxygen masks before they were allowed back into their homes at about 4 p.m.
D. Joy Faber, a Consolidated Edison spokeswoman, said that although the cause of the fire is under investigation by fire marshals, "there is a direct correlation with these manhole incidents and salt that is used to clear the snow."
In Queens, smoke from another underground electrical fire caused 12 people to be evacuated from their homes near 41st Avenue and Kissena Boulevard at 3:50 p.m.. ConEd officials said there were no outages and residents returned to their homes after carbon monoxide readings fell to a safe level at 6:30 p.m.