Ardmore, Lower Merion Township, PA — A nasty underground fire was the cause of Friday’s traffic woes for merchants and residents in the business district of Ardmore.  The fire, reported at 3:04 PM, was described as an electrical fire by authorities.

Three units from nearby Merion Fire Company of Ardmore, Station 25 arrived on the scene at the intersection of Cricket Ave. and S. Cricket Terrace within minutes of the fire being reported, said local firefighting officials.  

Smoke was emanating from a manhole in the street, authorities reported.  Power to a dozen or more businesses was lost.

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Underground electrical fires such as this could be caused by failing equipment or electric lines.  Either way, the electric company wouldn’t arrive for an hour or more.

Traffic in the immediate area was disrupted.  This section of Ardmore holds a higher density of businesses and residential properties, as well as new high rise construction taking place. These variables combined with the fire to grind traffic to a halt.

Manhole covers have been known to explode sending them flying through the air like the cutting blade of a circular saw which can damage or cut almost anything in its path.  

Manhole covers have exploded in many cities with the last recorded being in Philadelphia in February of last year.  That explosion in Old City caused the cast-iron manhole cover — which weighed more than 85 pounds — to lift a few feet into the air and land more than a foot away from the manhole.

While waiting for PECO to arrive, the fire crews worked inside many buildings checking for any signs of fire.  They also spent the hour monitoring the air quality inside the densely packed community.

When the electric Utility arrived they identified the damaged equipment and restored the power.

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