Eight businesses and over 100 apartments have been without power for over 24 hours after an underground electrical fire in Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday afternoon. ConEd emergency crews were working through the night on Monday evening in an effort to restore power.
The first started just after 4pm yesterday (Sunday) and spread underneath the West End Bar & Grill on the corner of 8th Avenue and W49th Street. “We had a bar full of people on Sunday afternoon. There was an electrical fire in the street. It burnt up all the lines. So there’s no power coming into the building,” said Michael Molly, co-owner of West End. “The smoke started coming from the street, then it backed up into the pipes and came up through the basement.”
The fire shut down power along 8th Avenue towards W48th Street and along W49th Street to the west. This afternoon, the street was still dug up and ConEd emergency vehicles and workers were on the scene.
Inside the West End Bar & Grill there was a smell of smoke and some of the floorboards had been ripped up by firefighters.
Down the block at Gifts & Luggage souvenir shop, manager Babu sat in darkness with the door open, hoping to still find some business from tourists. “The power has been off for 24 hours now. We pay $25,000 per month rent. How are my customers going to see anything with no lights? I have no register to take money either,” said Babu.
Other businesses like Times Square Diner on 8th Avenue and Modern Tea Shop around the corner on W49th Street were locked up and displaying signs saying “Due to Power Outage, We Will Be Closed. Sorry!”
Other businesses without power were Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns, Ho Ho Té and Z Grill. NYC Smoke Shop was without power — but still operating in darkness.
ConEd told us at 5pm on Monday: “We are showing no outages on the board at that intersection. If customers were out, they were already restored.” At 9:30pm, workers were still at the scene and power had not been restored to any of the businesses. A worker told us that they hoped to restore power early on Tuesday morning.
Apartments at 300 W49th Street (Elmsford Arms) were also cut off from power. There are 115 units over 8 stories on the affected block. Residents complained that food had gone bad as refrigerators and freezers lost power saying that this was the second major power outage recently — the last being in October.
We will update this story as further details become available.