Steam Pipe Explodes in Flatiron District

NY 1 - July 20, 2018

NEW YORK - A steam pipe explosion shut down streets in the Flatiron District Thursday morning, and the mayor confirmed later in the day that asbestos was present in the steam line casing.

The pipe exploded at Fifth Avenue and West 21st Street just before 7 a.m.

The explosion sent asphalt flying through the air, and huge plumes of steam billowed out of the ground for hours.

No work was being done on the pipes at the time, which date back to 1932.

FDNY officials on scene say five people suffered minor injuries, but officials say no one was seriously hurt.

A total of 49 buildings were evacuated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said tests done by Con Edison and others determined that there was asbestos in the steam line casing. However, he said tests to the air in the area determined that the air is the area is now safe.

The mayor says debris thrown by the ruptured pipe is still visible on the street and on building facades and needs to be cleaned up.

According to de Blasio, a thorough assessment will determine whether debris entered into more than four dozen buildings in the area, as well as whether debris entered into air conditioning systems.

Anyone in the vicinity of the rupture who was covered in material is advised to bag their clothing and shower, the mayor and Con Edison said.

The immediate area is 500 feet east or west of Fifth Avenue on 20th and 21st streets and 100 feet north and south on Fifth Ave.

Company personnel are at 19th Street and Broadway and at 22nd Street and Broadway until 9 p.m. Thursday to accept the clothing.

They also have claim forms available for people to submit to receive compensation for their clothes.

The forms are also available at