Was walking on West End Avenue last night around 11:00 pm when I spotted a bunch of NYPD/NYFD/Con Ed trucks on West 76th (between WEA & Riverside).
Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but:
- This same block has experienced two manhole fires/explosions in the past year
- Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand walked by and casually asked me what had happened
This stretch of West 76th Street has seen its share of underground electrical issues in recent times: First there was a manhole explosion last July, followed by a similar second incident just last month.
I spoke to a Con Ed supervisor who didn’t seem to know anything about the previous incidents but didn’t think this most recent one was related. He speculated some wires got overloaded due to heavy power consumption by people running their air conditioners.
Several buildings on the block lost power and it was unclear how long it would take to be restored. The situation was being evaluated and the supervisor said “it could be two hours, or we might still be here in the morning.”
I wasn’t there to see it, but apparently thick black smoke was billowing from the street. By the time I passed by, firemen had already doused the flames.
There were quite a few people milling around the sidewalks taking in the scene (I think some of them had lost power and had nothing else to do). Several of them had a “here we go again…” look on their face and I overheard multiple people commenting about the previous incidents.
I was about to continue on my way when a woman came up next to me and asked what was going on. I tried to say something insightful — I think my exact quote was: “Fire of some sort…”
She turned to look at the hole pictured above, mentioned something about how it had happened before, and then turned back to me. It was at that point that I asked: “Excuse me, are you Frances McDormand?”
She responded with a pleasant “Yes, we’re neighbors,” before turning around and heading to her building. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was with her husband, Academy Award-nominated directer, Joel Coen.*
It was news to me that they live in the area, but I just dug up an old “Celebrity Sighting” post from June 2010 that mentions them. It was written before my tenure here started (I think before I even discovered MUW).
You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll bump into during an evening stroll through the neighborhood…
p.s. Since we’re discussing celebrities sightings, this seems like a good excuse to mention that MUW reader Jennifer spotted Lost star Terry O’Quinn crossing Broadway & 70th last week.
* While I’ve seen his films, I wouldn’t have recognized Joel Coen if he had hit me in the face with a director’s cut DVD copy of Fargo while wearing a t-shirt that said “Hi, I’m Academy Award-nominated director Joel Coen” — thank goodness for IMDB.
Filed under: Celebrities, Film, Manhattan, New York City, News, NYC, Upper West Side, Upper West Side Blog, UWS 1 Comment »
Tags: Coen Brothers, con edison, Con-Ed, Ethan Coen, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen, manhole explosion, manhole fire, New York City, NYC, NYFD, NYPD, Terry O'Quinn, underground fire, Upper Wets Side, UWS, W 76, West 76