Explosion at Substation in Queens Lights Up the New York City Skies

'electrical arc' turns night sky blue over New York City

An electrical fault at a substation in Astoria, Queens, caused an electrical arc last night that lit up the skies over New York City and caused delays and scattered power outages, authorities said.  

The light show began just after 9 p.m. at the Con Edison plant located on 20th Avenue and 32nd Street in Astoria. It was initially believed that a transformer exploded, but Con Ed cleared up the confusion with  a statement explaining where the mystery light came from. 

"There was a brief electrical fire at our substation on 20th Avenue & 32nd Street in Astoria this evening, which caused a transmission dip in the area. All power lines serving the area are in service and the system is stable. Con Edison is investigating the cause of the incident."

 

Con Ed said that the electrical arc was not an electrical fire and that the New York Fire Department never entered the facility. 

The fault caused a brief ground stop at LaGuardia Airport that lasted for about a half-hour, which disrupted operations for hours. Passengers on planes had to disembark and be rescreened per protocols. 

The 7 train was also disrupted as service was suspended between 74 St-Broadway and Flushing-Main St in both directions. The train later resumed service after power was restored, though, with delays. 

Twitter lit up with New Yorkers sharing photos and videos of the strange phenomena, with many joking that aliens were finally invading the city, or that Season 3 of Stranger Things had premiered. 

 

It's not clear how long the electrical arc was sustained, but it didn't last for more than a few minutes. Con Edison says they will analyze their data to learn more about the incident and root cause of the electrical fault. A spokesman said it was likely a malfunction in the relay system. 

The spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio reassured residents in a tweet that the blue lights was decidedly "*Not* aliens." 

 
 
 
 

Photo: Getty Images

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