Another downtown manhole cover ‘blows,’ but DTE denies problems


Manhole DWSD

Less than two days after firefighters reported an underground fire in downtown Detroit, they spotted smoke coming from another “blown” manhole Monday morning, just a block from Cobo Center.

It was at least the fifth time this year that Detroit firefighters reported fire in manholes, some of which caused explosions and flung the heavy metal covers into the air.

But DTE went on the defensive, telling us that firefighters are wrong and there was no fire over the weekend or Monday.

“There is nothing going on over there,” DTE spokeswoman Vanessa Waters insisted. “This was no big issue.”

Map downtown detroitWaters said a cable failure was to blame and may have caused smoke on Saturday, but not fire, as more than 50,000 people were downtown for a Taylor Swift concert.

Firefighters disagreed and even said the fire appeared to be spreading underground and caused at least two manholes to explode. Some buildings lost electricity.

On Monday morning, firefighters said they saw smoke coming from a manhole that had just exploded and flew off at Cass and W. Fort, where numerous underground explosions shook the ground on Feb. 3. Covers went flying, and 42 firefighters flooded the area in case of an underground fire.

Waters claimed “nothing” happened Monday.

“Our crews did see a manhole cover off on Cass, but there was no sign of an issue,” she said.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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