A transformer explosion in Queens sent an eerie blue light flooding the nighttime sky over New York City Thursday night, startling residents.
Con Edison says a brief electrical fire caused a couple of transformers to trip offline at the substation at 20th Avenue and 32nd Street. Firefighters responded along with the utility crews.
The explosion lit the sky so brightly that it briefly appeared to be daytime in neighborhoods like Astoria and Woodside, residents reported. Smoke arose from the source of the blue light, visible from as far as Manhattan.
People in Queens reported the electricity briefly flickering off in their homes, and LaGuardia Airport saw a total blackout at one point. A News 4 staffer picking up his daughter in Terminal A said the lights started to flicker, then turned off completely while the emergency lighting stayed on.
The FAA has instituted a ground stop at LaGuardia until 10:30 a.m. Friday. The FAA won't lift the ground stop until power is restored.
A pilot near JFK Airport described the stunning scene when the transformer exploded, dispatch recordings show.
"11 o'clock, it looks like a massive fire," he's heard saying in a dispatch with the JFK tower.
"JetBlue 1186, you see that light out there? You know what that is?" one voice is heard in the tower transmissions.
"Yes sir, and no, we do not, not at all, sorry," another voice responds.
"We see colors like that off the clouds."
The JFK tower responds, "Yeah, we lost pretty much everything up here in the tower. We're on backup generator."
The NYPD is asking people to avoid the area of 20th Avenue and 31st Street in Astoria while they investigated.
Firefighters were initially called for a transformer fire there, radio transmissions on Broadcastify show.
"There's a high-voltage emergency going on the ConEd plant, heading that way now," one firefighter says. "Can we have a representative from Con Ed meet us out on 20th Avenue? It just seems like whatever it was just shut down. We'll meet them at the main gate."
"Yeah, whatever was arcing the skyline, it turned off, it seems like," he continued. "Just advise Battalion 49, we have a visible fire in the ConEd plant. We're going to enter off of 31st Street."
FDNY radio transmissions revealed some of the respons
No one was injured. Mayor de Blasio tweeted that Con Edison was evaluating outages.
Something is happening in Manhattan or Queens… like an explosion pic.twitter.com/LUd4m04lnN
— Zair Montes (@zairmontes) December 28, 2018
— Izzy Chester (@IzzyChester1) December 28, 2018
— Rich Villodas (@richvillodas) December 28, 2018
— Jacob Trevino (@JTrevinoNano) December 28, 2018
Entire sky lit up pic.twitter.com/uQVnKifRF2
— George Martinez (@gmartinez100) December 28, 2018
Explosion at the ConEd plant in Astoria. TL-117 confirming a fire at the facility pic.twitter.com/7g3vCmCQJx
— NYCFireWire (@NYCFireWire) December 28, 2018
View from my roof insane pic.twitter.com/ekLyolAPO5
— kjones4215 (@kjones4215) December 28, 2018
— Bagagem (@Bagagem72) December 28, 2018