UPDATED At 6:25 P.M.–A manhole explosion occurred on the corner of James Street and South Street in Morristown early Wednesday evening, but was not related to the ongoing efforts to restore power.
"We were in the process of restoring service in Morristown when we had an underground switch fail," JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said. "It was not in use. It was not a part of the network. It's not going to affect the effort to restore power. We are investigating the cause now."
Roads in the immediate area that had been closed due to the explosion reopened at about 5:36 p.m., soon after the blast.
"If it was the underground network, you wouldn't see power on," Mayor Tim Dougherty said.
Buildings in the immediate area, such as , , and apartment complexes, still had power immediately following the blast.
An officer from the said that the manhole was smoking at one point.
Dominick Sandelli, captain of , confirmed a woman suffered a minor burn injury while she was in her car and was transported to . Sandelli said the injury was caused by steam from the explosion. No additional information was immediately available on the woman's condition.
Morristown resident Safi Furlow, who lives at 181 South Street in the South Street Apartments, was at his home near the site of the explosion when it occurred.
"It sounded like a C-4 blowing up," he said. "It was dark black smoke. Pretty scary."
Kristen Wedderburn, assistant to Dougherty, said of the manhole cover that "it must have blown 30, 40 feet into the air." Of all the similar incidents in Morristown, she said, "it was the loudest I've ever heard."
The blast also startled owners of shops in the immediate area, as well.
"I heard a big blast and I thought my building was going to come down on me," said Darshana Patel, owner of the on South Street. "I ran outside and a lot of other people were running out. I saw big black cloud of smoke. I thought maybe a car had exploded."
Ryan Marowitz, part-owner of the was also alarmed. Marowitz was in his office when, "I heard a boom." He said he saw smoke coming from the area of South Street and James, but could not see the source of the smoke because the area had been blocked by authorities."
The area of James Street, South Street and Elm Street was closed immediately following the explosion Wedderburn said, but have since reopened.
Morristown has had a history of underground explosions, the most recent of which, in June, . In May 2010, an underground explosion severely damaged the —which required months of repairs. There were three other underground explosions in the months preceding that, and several over the last 20 years. An explosion in 2005 caused a daylong blackout. A 1994 explosion shut down the library for more than a month.
JCP&L has conducted several upgrades to Morristown's underground electrical systems over time, and has told officials previously it did not believe there was a continued, elevated risk of more explosions.
“I want to take this opportunity to continue to have dialogue with JCP&L to continue investing in our network," Dougherty said. "This is unfortunate, and we’ll deal with it."
Morristown police, fire and EMS crews all arrived on scene shortly after the explosion.
Associate Regional Editor Rick Burchfield contributed to this report.