Businesses remain closed following water main break, manhole fires in Chinatown

BOSTON (WHDH) – Crews continue to work Thursday to repair the messy damages left by a massive water main break that sparked manhole fires and toxic smoke in Chinatown on Wednesday.

A water department spokeswoman said the water main has been repaired and roads in the area should be opened for the Thursday morning commute. Some businesses whose basements were flooded will remain closed.

The spill happened shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday morning when a transmission water line broke. The break flooded the streets of Washington and Kneeland streets, forcing road closures from Kneeland to Stuart to Lincoln, not far from the Interstate 90 and 93 off-ramps that many commuters take into Boston.

Nearly a foot of water could be seen flooding the area, with garbage cans and other objects floating down the streets.

A few hours later around 9 a.m., several manhole fires sparked on Kneeland Street. Fire officials said the fires were probably triggered by the water main break. Toxic smoke spewed out of the manhole covers, forcing an evacuation of around 100 people from the Boston Youth Hostel.

Water lines were shut off for local residents who live in nearby condominium buildings as crews worked to repair the line break.

The cause of the water main break is under investigation. Mayor Marty Walsh said a possible cause could be the very old pipes that have been underground for almost a century in some places.


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