December 29, 1989 - A backhoe accidently severed a large gas main that fed the Con-Ed plant at Locust Ave and 132 Street in the South Bronx. The underground gas line comes from the Con-Ed plant in Astoria, Queens and runs under the river. The huge explosion killed 3 people including two Con-Ed workers and sent flames more than a Hundred feet or more in the sky. The fire was gas fed from the huge severed gas main. Exposures were in danger from radiant heat. It took Con-ed more than 45 minutes to shut down the gas from the Astoria, Queens plant. I happened to be off from work and just finished unloading my groceries, when I heard the 2nd alarm transmitted on arrival of the first due companies. I grabbed my gear and started out for the Bronx. While driving on the BQE headed for the Triborough Bridge I could see this huge fire ball in the sky. It looked like the flames were higher than a 14 story building. 3rd and 4th Alarms were quickly transmitted. I arrived at the scene in about 15 minutes. I parked my car a few blocks away and walked to the scene. There flames were in fact about 14 stories high and the roar from the gas and flames were extremely loud. I first went to the back of the large Con-Ed plant at Locust and 134th Street. You cold feel the heat from blocks away. I took a few photos and went to the front of the Con-Ed plant. There was an electrical yard that contained transformers and other electrical equipment with cables, that were smoking and burning from the radiant heat. Autos parked on the street closest to the blaze had their windows and plastic lens coverers melted. I walked a couple of blocks to get to 132 Street. Hand lines were being stretched into exposed buildings. One of the buildings was a NYCTA bus garage. Satelitte 4 from Queens set up on 132 street and opened up the deck gun on the rig, protecting the exposures. The fire spread to the 5 story Con-Ed plant and to an exposed factory building. A 5th Alarm was transmitted and then numerous special calls were needed. After the gas was shut off, firefighters made good progress in knocking down the fires in the exposures. This was a spectacular fire. As the buffs would say, this was a HOLY S__T Fire! which would mean, for anyone listining on the City wide Notification radio frequency, should respond from whereever they are.
The view of the fire from the rear of the Con-Ed plant. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Incredible Fire condition. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
An electrical sub station that caught fire from the radiant heat across the street from the Con-Ed plant. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Handlines are being stretched into the exposures. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Additional lines are being stretched. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
The exposed bus garage is on the right. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Buses are leaving the danger area. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Satelitte 4 from Queens is setting up on 132nd Street. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
It looks like a Fire Tornado. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Satelitte 4 is in operation cooling off the exposures.. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
It was loud and hot. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
A Tower Ladder is responding through the bus depot to get to the other side to set up. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
A wall of FIRE!. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Using a long lens, you can see the backhoe that ruptured the gas main. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
The gas was shut off minutes before this phooto was taken. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Two firefighters survey the scene. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Everything that could burn, burned. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
Even the tires on the backhoe were burned away. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
The fire caused a large blackout in the Bronx and required a large police presence. Photo taken on 12-29-89.
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