Blast shatters manhole cover, knocks out power in Midtown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's never a good time to lose electric service, but on a morning when temperatures dipped below zero, power outages are many people's biggest fear.

An explosion Wednesday morning at 31st Street and Troost Avenue caused a power failure that spooked neighbors.

Kansas City Power and Light says about 2,300 customers in Midtown lost electricity at about 6 a.m.

The outage happened while parents started dropping off their children at Operation Breakthrough's child care center.

KCPL says crews traced the problem to an equipment fault between the charity's two buildings, running underneath Troost Avenue.

After power was briefly restored around 7:30 a.m., witnesses say they were stunned to see and hear a blast, which shattered a manhole cover to pieces outside in the street.

"This morning we had a few families that were able to drop off their children, but since then we've put the notice out that we're going to have to unfortunately close for the rest of the day, until we're able to assess the situation in terms of power and heating in both of the buildings," said Mike Thomas, chief operating officer of Operation Breakthrough. "We can be fully operational potentially tomorrow."

The urban core day care serves about 700 children from low-income families, and was expecting even more Wednesday because the Kansas City school district is closed.

Instead, by 10 a.m. all parents had returned to pick up their children.

Crews used a crane to bring in a new manhole cover, once the repair was complete. Workers say the shattered piece of cast iron weighed more than 200 pounds.

Though electricity was restored to all Midtown customers before 8:30 a.m., Operation Breakthrough wants to inspect their heating and cooling systems to make sure a power surge did not damage them.

An underground transformer explodes sending manhole cover into air in pieces early Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

An underground transformer explodes sending manhole cover into air in pieces early Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

An underground transformer explodes sending manhole cover into air in pieces early Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

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