manhole

Walnut St. was shut down by police between 34th and 36th St. following an underground explosion that blew two manholes off the sidewalk. 

Photo: Julio Sosa / The Daily Pennsylvanian

On Thursday morning, an electrical explosion blocked traffic on Walnut Street and left one man injured. 

The Division of Public Safety was alerted to an initial explosion at 3451 Walnut St. around 10:06 a.m.

"Supervisors and numerous officers were on the scene by 10:08 a.m. and reported that we had a male down on the ground with injuries," Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

The man was a contractor who had been taking an item from the passenger side of his car on the north side of 34th Street. A manhole cover blew outside the Gap at 34th and Walnut streets, injuring the contractor. He received medical treatment afterward. 

"Around the same time, apparently a second manhole [cover] blew," Rush said.

This time, a truck was over the cover, which blew near the Franklin Building on 3451 Walnut St. That explosion did not hurt anyone.  

The Division of Public Safety sent out a UPennAlert at 10:18 am, notifying the community of increased police activity in the area of 3400 Walnut Street. 

At 10:38 a.m., DPS updated information on its website explaining that an explosion was the result of underground PECO electrical lines at 34th and Walnut streets, which have been undergoing maintenance for the past few weeks following power outages.

"Both manhole covers, in front of The Gap and the Franklin Building were propelled into the air as a result of the explosion,” the update stated.

Facilities and Real Estate Services and PECO conferred with Penn Police on the scene to ensure that no danger remained in any additional electrical lines. PECO eventually confirmed to DPS that the electrical lines in the area had been stabilized. 

The explosion comes two days after the terrorist attacks in Belgium rocked Europe. “Rest assured that this incident is not related to the current international unrest,” DPS said on its website. Rush affirmed in an interview Thursday afternoon that the explosion was in no way connected to a terrorist attack. 

"It was a PECO underground issue," she said. 

DPS sent out an all-clear at 10:43am. Penn Police conferred with storeowners along the stretch of 34th Street near Walnut to describe the situation.

Though traffic on Walnut Street has been limited to one lane, the sidewalk remained closed on Thursday morning, according to the website. Penn Police and Philadelphia Police remained on the scene to aid traffic.

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