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Electrical explosion prompts evacuation in Detroit

Tom Greenwood and Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — An electrical explosion caused the brief evacuation of an office building at Fort and Cass Tuesday morning in the city's downtown.

According to Fire Chief John King, at least three manhole covers blew off due to an underground electrical fire at the Fort Washington Plaza, located at 333 W. Fort St.

There were no reported injuries to civilians or fire personnel, officials said. A section of West Fort Street was closed at Cass Avenue but has since been reopened, as has the impacted building.

Three manhole covers blew off due to an underground electrical fire at the Fort Washington Plaza, located at 333 W. Fort St., on Tuesday.

Kujtim Kalami, owner of Gateway Deli inside the building, said he arrived at work in time to hear what sounded like an explosion.

"It was just a big boom and the building shook," he said. "Everybody ran out."

Kalami said the deli was reopened after being evacuated for roughly two hours.

King said one of the airborne manhole covers was located in an alley behind the building on West Fort, which was evacuated shortly after 8 a.m. when the smoke from the underground fire engulfed the basement.

"This building right here has been evacuated due to the amount of smoke that accumulated in the basement but there's no fire in this building nor has it affected the electrical in this building," King said.

King added he did not know where the other two manhole covers were located.

"We got here after the manhole covers had blown, so we're trying to find that out now," he said.

Utility crews were on the scene to determine the cause of the underground fire.

tgreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023