So This Is Why Manholes Keep Catching on Fire

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Two people were injured when a several manholes exploded from salt water seeping into transformers on Prospect Park West and 5th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn this afternoon.
Photo: Todd Maisel/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Manholes weaponized this month, with more than 300 exploding in flames since last week’s Snowmaggedon and one cover even hitting a 71-year-old man on the head as it flew through the air. It turns out the answer to why these things keep happening is quite simple: salt. According to CBS News, icy weather means that salt sprinkled on roads eventually runs down under the manhole covers, where it has a chance of coming into contact with exposed copper wiring, sparking, and igniting various trapped underground gases. Slotted manhole covers should eventually alleviate these instances a bit, but, for now, Con Ed underground operating supervisor Al Munro says battling these fires is like “going into battle.”