An underground electrical explosion forced police to shut down McDowell Street through downtown for much of Wednesday afternoon.
Duke Energy workers were conducting a “planned underground project” when a manhole exploded under the intersection of McDowell and Martin streets just after 2 p.m., said spokeswoman Jennifer Zajac. Witnesses say startled bystanders scurried out of the way after an initial blast of smoke rose from the manhole, followed by another thick plume of smoke.
“There were signs of an underground fire,” Zajac said.
No injuries were reported, and it’s not clear what caused the explosion, Zajac said.
Raleigh firefighters and police quickly responded and cordoned off the entire intersection while Duke Energy workers rerouted electrical power away from the manhole “to deter any type of fire,” Zajac said.
She said lights may have flickered, but there were no power outages.
Police directed incoming downtown traffic from South Saunders Street on to Western Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Martin Street was also closed between Dawson and Salisbury streets, near the Wake County Justice Center.
Police reopened the streets by 5:30 p.m.