4 THE QUEENS COURIER • JANUARY 3, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Con Ed plant fi re causes light show & freaks out city
BY MARK HALLUM AND
In the fi nal days of 2018, Queens witnessed
an almost supernatural light show
that no resident will soon forget.
A transformer fi re erupted at a Con
Edison plant in the vicinity of 20th Avenue
and 31st Street in Astoria on Dec. 27. Th e
incident caused 138,000-volt equipment to
malfunction, creating a massive blue arc of
electricity that, due to the low clouds over
the city, illuminated the evening sky with
unnatural shades of blue. One Twitter user
dubbed it the “Astoria borealis.”
Th e Fire Department and NYPD
responded to the reported blast just aft er
9:15 p.m. last Th ursday night. No one was
injured in the incident, but lights dimmed
briefl y across the borough — and residents
across the city who saw the sky lighting up
in an abnormal shade of blue took to social
media to share their amazed anxiety.
“Th e transformer explosion in Astoria
was… right outside my window. So bright
I couldn’t look directly at it,” Nick Riccardo
Lucy Ablasy and her daughter live a
block away to the south and thought it was
a fi re at fi rst. She said they did not hear an
“It looked like an alien was shining in
our window,” Ablasy said. “My son lives in
Flushing and even he saw it.”
Astoria resident Frazier Newton lives
The powerful blue light of the arc of electricity at the Con Edison plant in Astoria on Dec. 27.
close to the plant, and shot video of the
“I heard the bang, the lights fl ickered and
whatever, and then I came out to see it,” he
told Th e Courier. “You could see the light
was blinding. When I was taking the video,
I was covering my eyes, it was that bright. I
could feel the heat.”
Newton said that he didn’t hear an
explosion, but rather a “weird humming
or buzzing,” which is evident on the video.
At 11:05 p.m. on Dec. 27, Con Edison
sent out a statement explaining exactly
what happened: “Th ere was a brief electrical
fi re at our substation on 20th Avenue
and 32nd Street in Astoria shortly aft er 9
p.m. this evening, which involved some
electrical transformers and caused a transmission
dip in the area. Con Edison crews
responded with FDNY. Con Edison has
been in contact with offi cials at LaGuardia
Airport, which switched to backup generation
at the time of the transmission disturbance.
All power lines serving the area
are in service and the system is stable. Con
Edison is investigating the cause of the incident.”
But at 4:27 a.m. the next morning Con
Edison further described the event as an
“electrical fault on the 138,000 volt equipment”
that “caused a sustained electrical
arc fl ash that was visible across a wide
“Th e aff ected equipment was isolated to
a single section within the substation,” the
statement noted. “Con Edison has restored
all major transmission lines associated with
this event and is in the process of investigating
the root cause of the failure.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris was
among the spectators at the scene. He saw
the blue light from his house, then walked
down to investigate.
“Th ankfully, it seems nobody was seriously
injured. Th e NYPD, the FDNY did
a great job in getting this under control…
It looked a lot scarier than it was,” Gianaris
told Th e Courier at the scene. He added
that the state will likely “assess what happened,
how it happened and what went
wrong, but that’s an autopsy for tomorrow.”
“We just want to make sure everyone’s
safe,” he concluded.
Twitterverse sees stranger things in Queens’ blue light special
BY EMILY DAVENPORT
Many people took to Twitter to say
that the blue light looked like something
out of the fi lms “Independence Day” or
A bright blue light shined across the
“Men In Black,” implying that perhaps
city sky on Th ursday night, causing
aliens had found their way to Queens.
many Queens and other New York City
“Th e Men in Black used those little
residents to take to Twitter to react.
“fl ashy” memory-erasers and are
At 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 27, a transformer
telling the public its a blown transformer,”
at a Con Edison plant in Astoria exploded,
tweeted Vikki DS+EG (@
causing lights to fl icker throughout
the borough. Th e blast also released a
“16 seconds in which I thought I was
bright blue light in the sky that left many
about to be abducted by aliens,” added
city residents baffl ed.
Liz Elkind (@liz_elkind).
Th e FDNY reported that there were
Th ere were a few people on Twitter
no injuries as a result of the blast. Con
that joked that the blast had to have
Edison said that the blast was caused by
given someone superpowers.
an electrical fault.
“I’m tight cause I KNOW someone
Th e explosion, which Twitter user
just got superpowers from that blue
Benjamin Passikoff (@benpassikoff)
light,” tweeted Malik (@AintNoHeroes).
dubbed the “Astoria Borealis,” quickly
“You can’t tell me no one got superpowers
became a popular topic on Twitter, with
from this #bluelight,” added
many residents tweeting out photos and
Jesse Lord (@JLord_12).
videos of the blue light from their neighborhoods.
Others joked saying that the explosion
was a gender reveal that “got out
“Apparently this is a fi re at the Astoria
Power plant – as seen from Jersey City.
Hope everyone is ok!,” tweeted Simone
“It’s a BOY!!! #Bluelight,” added Nick
(@NiickySix). Photo via Twitter/@Moussa1915