No aliens: NY transformer explosion lights sky, knocks power
A transformer exploded Thursday night at a Con Edison facility in Queens, causing scattered power outages and sending a spectacular light across the New York skyline.
Authorities said a fire caused by the explosion was under control. No injuries were reported.
Fire officials said they fielded a flurry of calls reporting explosions in the Long Island City and Astoria areas.
The explosion caused power outages and also impacted subway service in the area. It also prompted a brief ground stop at LaGuardia Airport. But power had been mostly restored to LaGuardia by 11 p.m. and the airport was resuming normal operations. Travelers were still asked to check with their carriers for updated flight information.
The lights caused a stir on social media as several witnesses posted photographs and videos of a bright, blue flash that filled the night's sky. The Manhattan skyline and iconic East River bridges were suddenly silhouetted against a backdrop of pulsating light. Plumes of smoke poured from the transformer.
People flocked to social media to find out what happened and to share their observations.
Some observers wondered whether aliens were invading and joked that the trend of gender reveal parties had finally gone too far. Television host Keith Olbermann referred to the episode as the "Blue Light Special."
"Something insane is happening in the sky above Manhattan right now," New York University sociologist Eric Klineberg wrote on Twitter under a video of the flashing sky.
Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips tweeted that the lights were attributable to a "blown transformer."
"Not aliens," Phillips tweeted.
It was the second major incident involving Con Edison in the last six months. In July, a steam pipe explosion spewed asbestos-laden vapor into the air in Manhattan's Flatiron District, driving hundreds of people from their homes and businesses.
Con Edison said on Twitter that there was "a brief electrical fire at our substation in Astoria which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area."
A spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking further comment.