“I just heard the chaos,” said Kilmain, 26, from Abington. He saw smoke, people running and the injured woman on a stretcher.
Boston Police Detective Sergeant John Boyle, a department spokesman, said officers initially responded to the first manhole fire when the second also caught fire.
“A female victim was taken to hospital with injuries and is being evaluated at Tufts Medical Center,” Boston Fire Department Deputy Chief Brian Tully said during a briefing at the scene. “When I arrived on the scene…the first thing I noticed was glass on the pavement and heavy smoke billowing through the manhole cover.”
Tully said a manhole cover was “definitely pushed onto the pavement. … He was several feet from the actual manhole, so he definitely … the pressure lifted him up and he was thrown to the sidewalk.
The victim, Tully said, may have suffered a steam burn. Boyle said his injuries were not life threatening.
“I think she may have been walking on the sidewalk when the manhole let loose, but that’s speculation on my part at this point,” Tully said.
He said utility crews were on hand to check for any natural gas issues resulting from the explosions, prompting the evacuation of buildings at 175 Federal St. and 10 High St.
“We have high levels of carbon monoxide [in thebuildings]”, said Tuly. “We are in the process of putting in positive pressure ventilators to bring the level down. … The levels are dropping dramatically.
Tully said the high carbon monoxide levels were likely the “result” of the explosions.
“When we pulled up there was heavy smoke, especially along that 10 High St.,” Tully said. “It’s been hot lately, so we’ve been using a lot of electricity in the city. So probably, you know, it just kept piling up.
Tully said officials hope the evacuated buildings can reopen later Thursday.
“I think it’s just, you know, it’s Murphy’s Law,” Tully said. “When we use a ton of electricity and energy, you know, the equipment just gets overused, overloaded, and eventually, you know, once in a while something breaks. But I believe the energy system of our town is safe.
Ari Manakos, 30, of Dover, NH, works at 155 Federal St. and said he could feel the building rumble while using the restroom.
“I was in the bathroom with a good seat and the room shook,” he said, as he stood outside with some of his colleagues. “It was very, very audible. I felt the building rumble.
He said he thought it was the elevator at first – until he heard the second explosion.
“It’s weird,” he said. “Nobody wants to think about the concept of explosions happening.”
Another witness, Ashley Ventrillo, said he also heard the two explosions.
“It was just terrifying because we didn’t know what was going on right now,” said Ventrillo, 25, of East Boston, who works for a law firm at 175 Federal St.
She said she saw smoke coming from 10 High St. and detected a “horrible smell of gas.”
“It really looked like a bombshell,” she said. “When people started running, I started running because I was like, ‘I’m just going to do what everyone else is doing. “”
Inside 175 Federal St., attorney Carmen Durso was preparing for a press conference at her fifth-floor office when, he said, he saw a lightning strike between 10 High St. and 155 Federal St.
“I was surprised because…it was clearly love at first sight,” said Durso, a well-known lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse in civil proceedings. “And seeing one between the buildings was just stunning. You would expect it to hit the buildings, but it very clearly fell there…it was an immediate hit of lightning and then explosion.
The lightning, Durso said, came seconds before the first explosion. He said he saw glass crashing after the explosions and the power cut.
CJ Certo, 29, was working on his computer at 155 Federal St. when he heard a “deep, very loud explosion,” he said at the scene.
“The building shook, kind of a quick jolt and a human screamed,” Certo said.
He immediately fled.
“The boom and the scream was enough to get out of there,” Certo said. It smelled like “chemical meets fear in the air,” he continued.
Some people’s natural instinct was to flee while others thought they were safer indoors, Certo said.
“You could see the anxiety on people’s faces,” he said.
Eversource spokesman William Hinkle said the manholes affected belonged to the utility. He said no Eversource employees were working there at the time. The company now has crews on site to investigate the cause, he said, adding that no Eversource customers had lost power as a result of the blasts.
“We are working with the necessary firefighters and utility companies … to investigate the cause,” Hinkle said.
Traffic Advisory: Boston Police and Boston Fire Department are at the scene on Federal Street following a report of fires in manholes. Street closures are in effect. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic will be impacted.
— Boston Police Department (@bostonpolice) June 2, 2022
Video posted to Twitter by 7News showed smoke billowing from the manhole as Boston firefighters and police responded to the scene.
Jennifer Peter and John Ellement of Globe staff contributed to this story. This is a breaking story that will be updated when more information becomes available.
Travis Andersen can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Matt Yan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matt_yan12. Tonya Alanez can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.