Alien Invasion Over Astoria? No, an Explosion at a Con Ed Substation

By David Brand

Bright blue lights illuminated New York City on Thursday night, confusing, frightening and later inspiring residents, who tweeted countless jokes and observations about what turned out to be an explosion at a Con Edison substation in Astoria. There were no reported injuries.

Minutes after the explosion, Con Edison told the Eagle that “a couple of transformers tripped” at 20th Avenue and 32nd Street, casting a bright light over the area and causing a “loud boom.” Later in the evening, a Con Edison spokesman said the explosion actually “involved some of our large electrical equipment.”

“We initially thought it was transformers, but now looks like it was not transformers,” he said. “Our crews arrived and FDNY arrived, but the fire put itself out before FDNY came.”

The explosion caused some homes to lose power, according to the live Con Edison outage map, and forced officials at LaGuardia airport to ground flights until about 11 p.m. A Con Edison spokesman said LaGuardia quickly switched their power source to back-up generators.

“There was a brief electrical fire at our substation in Astoria which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area. We're currently investigating the cause of the incident,” Con Edison said on Twitter.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also informed New Yorkers that the light was caused by an electrical surge at the ConEdison substation.

The MTA maintained power, but there were delays on the No. 7 train. Service resumed with heavy delays shortly before 11 p.m., according to the MTA.

After the explosion, Rikers Island jails lost power for 25 minutes, The New York Times reported.

Con Edison and the city will continue investigating the cause of the explosion, a Con Edison spokesman said.

Eagle staff photo

Eagle staff photo