Transformer explosion at Con Ed plant lights up sky over New York City

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- A transformer exploded at a power plant in Queens on Thursday night, lighting up the sky over New York City while causing some flight delays and scattered power outages.

It happened shortly after 9 p.m. at the Astoria East and North Queens Con Edison plant on 20th Avenue & 32nd Street in Astoria.

New Yorkers reported seeing massive blue lights in the city following the explosion and took to social media to share photos and videos.

Fire officials said they were fielding numerous calls for reports of explosions in the Long Island City and Astoria areas.

The NYPD said a fire caused by the transformer explosion was placed under control.

According to Con Ed, the explosion was caused by a transmission dip at its Astoria substation. Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said the blue light was caused by an electrical surge at the substation.
The power outages affected operations at LaGuardia Airport. There was a total ground stop at the airport for about a half hour before power was restored and flights resumed with some delays and cancellations.
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CeFaan Kim reports on the situation at LaGuardia Airport following the explosion.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo described a "major electrical failure" at the electrical substation along the East River, near the Rikers Island prison complex and across a small bay from LaGuardia

There are no indications of local air quality issues but health and environmental officials will continue to monitor the situation, a spokesman for the mayor said.

No customer outages have been reported. Con Ed says all power lines serving the area are in service and the system is stable.
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Bill Ritter spoke with Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin about the explosion in Queens.

The NYPD says there have been no injuries.

People flocked to social media to find out what happened and to share their views of the plumes of smoke pouring from the transformer.

"It was pitch black outside and then suddenly the whole side of the eastern sky was lighting up and changing colors," said Madeleine Frank Reeves, who saw the lights from her Upper West Side apartment. "It lasted a couple of minutes."

"Something insane is happening in the sky above Manhattan right now," New York University sociologist Eric Klineberg wrote on Twitter under a video of the flashing sky.

Mayor de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips tweeted that the lights were attributable to a "blown transformer."

"Not aliens," Phillips tweeted.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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