DETROIT - Investigators were working late Wednesday night to determine what caused a series of manhole explosions in Detroit's Greektown entertainment district, sparking an evacuation and filling the streets with acrid smoke.
No injuries were reported in the incident centered by the Atheneum Hotel and Fishbone's Restaurant.
RoNeisha Mullen, spokeswoman for DTE Energy, said utility officials suspect that an underground cable failed.
Earlier in the night, Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell said it appeared there was a problem with a transformer under the street, sparking an explosion.
"It sent a tremendous amount of smoke into Fishbone's and the hotel," he said. "...Our first call was smoke on the 8th floor of the hotel."
But fire officials did not believe there was any fire in either Fishbone's or the Atheneum — just smoke.
Mellina Edmonds, 35, of Eastpointe was in her room at the Atheneum Hotel when the first explosion happened.
"I felt it," she said. "Three (explosions) happened. I was laying on the couch when I felt the whole room shake.
"I went down and asked the front desk," and was told an elevator had fallen to the basement. Other hotel and restaurant guests also reported that an elevator collapsed. But fire officials said later there was no elevator collapse.
Edmonds went outside. Then she felt a second explosion and saw flames shoot out of a manhole in the street. A third explosion followed. The hotel lobby filled with smoke.
At Fishbone's, lights started blinking and a recorded voice announced a fire and evacuation. After the second explosion the diners started scattering. A third explosion was not as loud.
At Redsmoke BBQ, a police officer announced that manhole covers were exploding and emitting toxic fumes. Diners were ordered to stay indoors.
Several dozen people, some carrying luggage, sat and stood outside the Atheneum at Lafayette and Brush. At least two blocks of Monroe, Greektown's main strip, were being evacuated. A foul odor hung in the air.
Police and firefighters directed people to move down the street away from 400 Monroe St.
Fire officials were working with DTE to figure out exactly what happened.
"Everything is under control," Fornell said at 10:15 pm.
Just before 11 p.m., streetlights in and around Greektown flickered on and off. The streets around Greektown Casino remained shut down, forcing casino-goers who had used the valet to walk to their cars because the valet was closed.
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