Electrical fire sparks evacuation at Midtown high-rise

Posted at 10:23 AM, Jun 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-11 10:23:38-04

MIDTOWN (PIX11) — Thousands of people headed to work Tuesday, were turned away at the entrance to their East side high-rise office building. An electrical fire resulted in a power shutdown inside leaving them standing on East 55th street for hours.

Sources tell PIX11 a fire in electrical equipment in a sub-basement at 919 Third Avenue resulted in con-ed cutting the power to the building.

Firefighters reported heavy smoke when they arrived and high levels of carbon monoxide. It was initially believed that a transformer exploded.  But sources tell PIX11 that 5 transformers feed pieces of electrical equipment in the building and that one of those pieces of equipment caught fire.

Firefighters vented the building to get high levels of carbon monoxide out.

Rich Livermond works on the 33rd floor and told PIX11 “I didn’t hear anything, I just saw smoke coming from the vent.”  He went on to say “The elevators are down. The building is closed.”

Others said they were holding up, while one woman turned and headed back towards her train saying she would work from home for the day.  Another worker told PIX11 they were relying on cell phone and word of mouth for communication while hoping none of the IT systems got fried.