rb fire 010415 2Smoke billows from one of two manholes on Broad Street Sunday afternoon. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb fire 010415 1A series of explosions in underground electrical boxes rocked Broad Street in Red Bank Sunday afternoon.

No injuries were reported as the eruptions, in front of the St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High School complex, sent steel covers and bricks flying from two manholes shortly after 3 p.m.

The first of the explosions occurred directly in front of the church, said police Chief Darren McConnell. Three other explosions followed, about 100 feet to the south, in a manhole opposite Canal Street, he said .

One of the explosions, witnessed by redbankgreen, sent a column of flame about four feet above the sidewalk.

The two manholes spewed clouds of smoke that ranged from gray to green to black while firegfighters blocked off the main downtown throughfare between Harding Road and Monmouth Street.

The cause of the explosions was not immediately known.

Bobby Holiday, a volunteer firefighter and official with the borough public utilities department, said the underground boxes contain electrical transfer equipment in lieu of poles seen on most streets.

Elio Ventrella, owner of the One Blow Dry Bar hair salon located just steps from one of the manholes, tells redbankgreen that his employees and customers heard the first explosion and were soon evacuated by emergency personnel.

Within 40 minutes, the smoke condition had all but ended after a Jersey Central Power and Light crew turned off power to much of the area.

RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone told redbankgreen that store alarms were reported to have gone off along Monmouth Street as a result of the shutdown.