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Detroit — A manhole cover blew into the air Monday morning downtown, closing a portion of the eastbound lane of Cass Avenue at Fort Street.

Firefighters were called just after 11 a.m. after witnesses heard an explosion, Sgt. Joseph Berrelez said.

They found the cover dislodged and smoke billowing from the manhole.

"We're keeping people away until (Detroit) Edison comes, and we'll leave it to them," Berrelez said. "It's an Edison manhole."

Power was not affected in nearby buildings and there have been no evacuations or injuries, he said.

Romjan Ali, an employee at Supreme Parking on the corner of Cass and Fort, said he was standing in the lot when he saw the explosion.

"I heard a boom and saw a lot of smoke, like dirty smoke," he said.

While the manhole cover stayed near the ground, brown smoke rose beyond the People Mover tracks above, he said.

The fire department arrived within five minutes.

It is unclear what caused the manhole to blow, but it appears there is no underground fire associated with the incident, Berrelez said.

"It could be a build up of methane (gas) that ignited," he said. "I don't know."

Similar incidents occur in the city a couple times a year, he said.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

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