Two SEPTA workers injured in manhole fire in West Philly

Two SEPTA workers were injured in a manhole fire Wednesday morning in West Philadelphia, officials said.

One worker was transported to the Temple University Hospital Burn Unit with first-degree burns to his hand and face, officials said. The other worker was released after being treated for minor injuries.

The fire also disrupted power to the block, near 49th Street and Windsor Avenue. It was restored a short time later, witnesses said.

Firefighters responded at 11:51 a.m. to calls about the fire, and by noon, they had requested additional fire companies, a department spokesman said. It was eventually brought under control.

The two SEPTA workers opened the manhole cover to investigate reports of an odor in the area, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said. They attempted to find the source of the odor with teams fromPhiladelphia Gas Works (PGW) because the site is near the Route 34 trolley tracks.

“They weren’t inside at the time, but there was sort of a flash fire,” Busch said. “Flames came out of this manhole.”

Eyewitnesses described hearing an explosion underground, then seeing the fire. Video from the sceneshowed flames shooting from the open manhole.

The odor originated with a burnout of an underground SEPTA transformer, said PGW spokesman Barry O’Sullivan. He said PGW found no evidence of a gas leak, but were still examining the area on Wednesday evening for any damage to their infrastructure.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation by the PhiladelphiaFire Marshal’s Office.

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