Manhole cover blasted into air as power goes outMark LaFlamme also wrote earlier in the Sun Journal about his contemplations on the sinkhole.
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 28,2006
LEWISTON - A series of explosions rocked Lisbon Street Tuesday
afternoon and the scene was a familiar one. An electrical problem
beneath the ground in front of Grimmel's Auto Sales was so powerful
it blew a manhole cover into the air three times before it was over.
"As heavy as that manhole cover is, it must have come three feet off
the ground," said Grimmel's owner Mike Grimmel. "It made my knees
At the same time, sparks were shooting from power lines overhead and
a large portion of the downtown area went dark. The power remained
out for nearly an hour before a temporary fix was put in place and
more extensive repairs began.
The 3:30 p.m. incident occurred in almost the same spot where a burst
underground pipe resulted in a massive sinkhole two weeks ago. The
hole, directly in front of Grimmel's, forced the closure of lower
Lisbon Street for nearly a week.
"If it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all," said Fred
Quimby, an employee at Grimmel's Auto Sales.
Quimby was moving cars in Grimmel's sales lot when the first of the
underground explosions rocked the earth and blew upward.
"I heard 'whoosh!' I looked over and the manhole cover was just
coming back down onto the ground," Quimby said.
When the manhole cover first blew from the ground, employees at
Grimmel's didn't know what caused the problem. Grimmel said he had
been showing a potential customer a Suburban at the time. After the
first explosion, he advised her to leave the lot.
She left before emergency crews arrived, and two more blasts occurred.
Central Maine Power Co. crews went beneath the street where they
determined the problem resulted from a cable failure. The cable runs
from below the street to the top of a utility pole nearby.
As he put it so succinctly: "Few people enjoy the idea of stuff getting sucked down into a dark crater in the earth." He also relates the lore of the old-timers of Lewiston, and their recollections of Lisbon Street in its gala days before, interestingly enough, yet ANOTHER sinkhole ruined it.
They say Lisbon Street was a place visited by princes and princesses who would come from faraway places to watch gladiators do battle in elaborate arenas. They came for the burlesque shows, the street magicians, the fancy saloons where beer was sold for a nickel and you could relax with a massage at the spas upstairs. [...] And then the sinkhole came. Its black, hungry maw opened wide without warning, right ther in front of what was then Grimmel's Saloon and Eatery, near the grand gateway to the coveted Lisbon Street Mecca.LaFlamme, no stranger to the weirdness and darker sides of Maine, has no reassurance for us. As he says, "I'm not saying bad things will follow. I just have a sinking feeling." Ow. Read LaFlamme's blog here.