Water main break and manhole fires create mess in Chinatown

BOSTON (WHDH) - A major water main break in Chinatown flooded the streets of Washington and Kneeland streets Wednesday morning, forcing road closures in the area.

The spill happened shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday morning when a transmission water line broke. Officials are unsure what caused the line to break. Nearly a foot of water could be seen flooding the area, with garbage cans and other objects floating down the streets.

Several manhole fires sparked on Kneeland Street just after 9 a.m. and fire officials said the fires were probably triggered by the water main break. 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. Streets were shutdown from Kneeland to Stuart to Lincoln, not far from the Interstate 90 and 93 off-ramps that many commuters take into Boston.

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.

Officials said the water main has been repaired and they hope to have the roads reopened in time for the morning commute Thursday.

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