Series of Underground Explosions Rock Downtown Des Moines


By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa — Underground explosions were reported in downtown Des Moines early Wednesday morning.

Firefighters said they had several residents living near 4th Street and Court Avenue call just before 2:45 a.m. reporting an explosion.

Officials said the first explosion was near The Elliot Apartment Building on 4th Street.

One resident told KCCI that he said he smelled gas, saw smoke coming up from a manhole and then saw a massive explosion. He said he saw flames shoot up at least 30 feet in the air.

Police said a second explosion happened within about 10 minutes, less than a quarter mile from the first site. A third explosion was also reported just off 4th Street.

Officials evacuated The Elliot Apartment Building and Hotel Kirkwood, the two buildings closest to the explosion sites.

Lt. Larry Davey was one of the Des Moines police officers who was there for the second explosion.

"When the officers arrived, we saw fire coming out of the manhole cover about 4 or 5 feet in the air. I responded, as well as several officers, to secure the scene. Shortly after that, we had a second explosion with more coming through another manhole cover," said Davey.

Officials do not believe anyone was injured in the blasts.

MidAmerican Energy told KCCI 8 News that crews have surveyed the area and taken samples.

Officials said the explosions were not related to natural gas. They said underground electrical cable faulted and created a pressurized system, which can blow off manhole covers.
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