Binghamton Fire Department Reports No Injuries in Downtown Verizon Building Explosion
What could have been a catastrophic situation with an explosion at a downtown Binghamton business over the weekend remarkably ended with no injury and minimal damage.
According to reports by the City of Binghamton Fire Department posted on social media, an explosion and fire Saturday afternoon, August 13 at the Verizon Building on Henry Street can be traced to a possible transformer problem in the basement of the building.
Firefighters responded to the building at 64 Henry Street, just yards from the Downtown Binghamton Post office at 2:23 p.m. and found heavy black smoke rising from the sidewalk grates.
According to the fire department's account on Facebook: "These grates typically indicate to firefighters that there are underground utilities below the sidewalk."
Authorities say firefighters conducted searches of the Verizon building and surrounding structures. The account relates crews were looking not only for possible victims, but also for any fire extension, indication of gas leaks or any build-up of carbon monoxide.
There were no reports of injury or any fire resulting from the blast that apparently happened in a utilities vault in the basement.
New York State Electric and Gas crews were called in and the street was closed off on the block in front of the building.
The account by the fire department indicates the incident had a potential for becoming much more serious.
The BFD Facebook post reports:
"Our members stood by with various extinguishing agents and used sensitive electronic meters to make sure the below ground area was safe for NYSEG to enter. Firefighters then stood by prepared to rescue the NYSEG crew from the confined space in case they encountered difficulty."
Authorities say when NYSEG crews reached the utility vault they found a 12,000 volt heavy amperage transformer had exploded.
Photos posted online show a half-inch thick cover plate on the transformer, that had been secured with several heavy-duty bolts, had been blown off and launched across to the opposite wall before apparently bouncing back to the other side of the vault.
Authorities say: "it was very fortunate that there were no civilians in the area of the sidewalk at the time of the explosion."
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