Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Three Electricians Injured in Panel Explosion at Hilton

An electrical explosion rocked the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan Wednesday, leaving three people with injuries and knocking power out for hours. Three workers tending to an electrical panel in the basement of the hotel were hurt in the blast.

An explosion at a Midtown hotel Wednesday afternoon sent people running into the streets, while others were stuck inside an elevator.

Three electricians from H & L Electric were working on a pair of panel boards in the basement of the Hilton New York on West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue, suffered minor injuries after something caused a spark, which was followed by a loud boom.   

One of the electricians suffered a burn to his hand, another worker was struck in the head during the blast and a third worker suffered unspecified injuries described as minor.

More than 60 firefighters responded to the scene. Responders searched the building's elevators and meeting rooms to make sure everyone got out. Responders rescued nine people from stalled elevators, and people in the lobby were given green glow sticks.

A spokesperson for Fire Department said that some guests stayed in their rooms, but some who fled in elevators were briefly trapped as the power went from main to back-up.  One hotel employee was trapped in an elevator for two hours.

Firefighters had to search 24 elevators. Communication was an issue, so special units were called in. There were approximately 3,000 people in the fully occupied hotel at the time of the explosion.

Witnesses described the lights going out and then, 15 seconds later, hearing what sounded like a series of gunshots. Shortly thereafter, they heard a public address announcement indicating there was a fire.

As of Wednesday night, the hotel said that all guest floors and guest rooms have power, but the lobby currently has only temporary lighting.  There is still no word on when there will be full power restoration.