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‘Hot Zone’ Around NYC Steam Pipe Explosion Shrinks

What to Know

  • Nine buildings in Flatiron have been OK'd for reoccupancy after last week's steam pipe explosion forced an evacuation of nearly 50 buildings

  • The "hot zone" around the area has also shrunk; 18th, 19th and 22nd streets are now open again

  • A cause of the explosion is under investigation; it comes almost 11 years to the day of a pipe blast near Grand Central that hurt dozens

The "hot zone" around the massive steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron District of Manhattan last week is shrinking as officials deem certain buildings and streets safe to reoccupy after assessing for asbestos.

New York City's Emergency Management Department says 18th, 19th and 22nd streets are now open after a 20-inch high-pressure, asbestos-lined pipe exploded on Fifth Avenue near 21st Street last Thursday, leaving a bus-sized crater in the street.

Fifth Avenue between 20th and 21st streets remains closed to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic, with the exception of MTA buses (although buses are bypassing all stops between 18th and 23rd streets).

Nine buildings have also been cleared for residents to return after 49 buildings were initially evacuated after the explosion: buildings no. 119, 146 and 162 on Fifth Avenue; 9 West 20th St.; buildings no. 19 and 22 on West 21st St.; 7 East 20th St.; and 11 West 19th St. (which includes 17 West 19th, 10 West 20th, and 16 West 20th).

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Officials are still examining buildings in the area and testing building facades, roofs and common areas for asbestos.

A reception area for affected residents remains open at the Clinton School at 10 East 15th St. from 8 a.m. throough 8 p.m.

A cause of Thursday's blast remains under investigation. Authorities say no Con Edison work was being done in the area, and there's no visible indicator to explain what happened. Gov. Cuomo has ordered a probe into any potential utility-related links.

At least five people suffered what officials called minor injuries.

The blast came almost exactly 11 years to the day of an 83-year-old steam pipe explosion near Grand Central. That shot debris 40 stories in the air, raining mud on midtown, after authorities said the pipe failed.

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