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Manhole Explosions, Fire in Needham Cause Power Outage

Two manhole explosions and a fire in Needham, Massachusetts caused a power outage that lasted for hours Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters arrived at a mainly busy commercial area of Highland Avenue near Interstate 95 just after 3 p.m., where one explosion happened right after the other, according to authorities.

"A manhole cover blew out of the ground," said Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon. "Witnesses said they saw flames shoot out about 8 feet."

No injuries were reported.

"It's a lucky situation obviously, there's a lot of pressure that blows under those grates so if that went up underneath someone's car they would have felt it," Condon said.

Eversource said the explosions were caused by a combination of higher than usual demand for electricity due to the excessive heat.

While they waited for Eversource to respond, fire officials had to block off the impacted area to traffic.

As of 4:30 p.m., power was still out to a number of businesses in the area, including a strip mall containing Petco and Staples stores. At one point, Eversource reported more than 1,300 outages in Needham and Newton.

Nearby resident Robin O'Connor said she lost power along with area businesses.

"The power went off like that, I was like 'oh shoot,'" O'Connor recalled.

Authorities said no property damage was reported and Eversource hoped to have power fully restored to the area by 8 p.m.

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