Host city for Final Four dealing with underground explosions

Posted at 10:33 AM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 10:33:25-04

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Following the second underground explosion downtown this week, Indianapolis Power and Light crews planned to work around the clock on repairs.

Crews brought in dozens of generators to restore power to an apartment building, businesses and traffic lights in the area of North and Capitol late Thursday.

A short circuit underground ignited an explosion just before 7 a.m., sending two manhole covers feet into the air and flames shooting into the street.

“I woke up to a loud banging noise, almost like a pop and there (were) vibrations,” Elizabeth Higgins, who lives nearby, said.

Higgins and more than a hundred other residents at the Senate Manor Apartments were forced out of their homes all day for safety, unsure whether they’d be allowed back inside.

“My big concern was, are we going to have to go stay with friends, stay at a hotel for days or maybe weeks?” Higgins said.

Fortunately, IPL’s generator for the apartment building was in place by 6 p.m. and Higgins got back inside.

The explosion, though, raised questions as to the safety of infrastructure under city streets. IPL will face some of those questions at an emergency meeting with its regulators at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

As for city leaders, who are gearing up for the Final Four downtown in just a couple of weeks, we heard mixed messages. Organizers with Visit Indy and Indy Sports Corp said they’re confident IPL will fix the problem.

City-county councillor Zach Adamson, however, pointed out a larger issue, saying it’s time to address aging infrastructure that seems to be giving way again and again.

“I don’t know that it’s because of the Final Four. It’s something that we should be doing because it’s likely to happen again in highly traveled areas,” Adamson said.

IPL leaders contended that the two incidents are unrelated and that overall it’s infrastructure is safe, saying they will continue to address problems with underground explosions.