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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

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Manhole fire causes explosion on St. Stephen Street

Smoke+rises+from+a+hole+on+St.+Stephen+Street.+The+smoke+and+explosion+were+caused+by+a+manhole+fire+around+10+a.m.+Jan.+10%2C+according+to+a+Boston+Police+spokesperson.
Erin Fine
Smoke rises from a hole on St. Stephen Street. The smoke and explosion were caused by a manhole fire around 10 a.m. Jan. 10, according to a Boston Police spokesperson.

A manhole fire caused an explosion on St. Stephen Street at around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the Boston Police Department, or BPD. The university told WCVB that a Jeep Wrangler and a Northeastern University police car were damaged in the blast. 

Boston police said officers responded to the area around 9:57 a.m. after receiving reports of an explosion, which lifted asphalt from the street beneath a Jeep parked over a manhole and was accompanied by a loud bang. A Northeastern University Police Department, or NUPD, officer parked across the street from the scene responded to the incident immediately. Several blocks around the area were closed after the explosion.

An alert from Northeastern University sent shortly after 10:30 a.m. advised people to “avoid the area and remain indoors if in the affected area.” 

Responders checked several manholes on St. Stephen and surrounding streets around noon to ensure safety in the area, NUPD officer Rachel Jolliffe told The News.

NU Dining Boston posted a story on Instagram around 11 a.m. stating that the dining halls at Stetson East and Stetson West are closed until further notice.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., the university sent a follow-up email alert advising students to continue avoiding the area, but stated that residents of St. Stephen Street are now safe to leave their buildings.

Yellow caution tape blocks off St. Stephen Street and Gainsborough Street. After the explosion, an alert was sent instructing people to avoid the area. Photo courtesy of Val O’Neill.

In a statement posted on their X account at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Eversource, an energy delivery company, said they were responding to an issue related to two manholes on St. Stephen Street. 

“The substantial rainfall overnight likely played a role –– we’ll look into the exact cause while crews make repairs,” the post said. 

According to the statement, Eversource crews had to de-energize an electricity line to make necessary repairs, leaving two apartment buildings without power.

Before the explosion occurred, the area smelled of burning rubber. Two additional loud noises could be heard in the area shortly after the initial explosion, but BPD did not confirm the number of manhole fires. It was unclear whether the noises were related to the first explosion.

“They wouldn’t let us walk by on the street and they were directing students quickly away from the scene,” said Kate Deskey, a third-year journalism major who was in the area after police and firefighters had responded. “There was smoke and I thought it was a fire but then I saw that the ground had exploded.”

The Boston Fire Department and Northeastern University did not respond to repeated calls from The News.

This story was updated at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday to include the statement from Eversource and information about vehicle damage from WCVB.

This is a developing story. The News will continue to add more information as it becomes available.

Emily Spatz and Val O’Neill contributed to this report. 

About the Contributor
Val O’Neill, Deputy Campus Editor
Val O’Neill is a third-year journalism major with a minor in photography and one of the deputy campus editors. She has previously been a staff writer and staff photographer and is excited to bring new ideas and continue her participation on The News. You can follow her on X/Twitter at @vqon717.
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