POLICE sealed off a stretch of Sheffield city centre yesterday lunchtime after an explosion lifted a manhole cover.
The blast happened just after noon at the corner of Church Street and Vicar Lane, shocking passers-by and nearby traders.
Workers reported hearing a bang and seeing a cloud of yellow smoke. Electricity provider YEDL said the explosion was caused by a faulty underground cable, which affected the electricity supply to the nearby National Blood Service building.
Police at the scene said the manhole cover and surrounding bricks were forced into the air because of the pressure of the explosion.
Jan French, from the Deli Shuss sandwich shop opposite, said: “I was the person who phoned the police. I didn’t know what it was but there was a really loud bang and a big puff of yellow smoke.
“I thought the police were looking at a box at first but it turned out to be the manhole cover.”
Her colleague Zoe Robinson said: “It was loud enough to hear it above the noise of the traffic.”
Phil Kirwin, owner of running shop Up and Running next door, said: “I was downstairs when I heard a bit of a bang.
“I came up and there were lots of people standing around and taking pictures on their phones. Then the police came and cordoned it off.”
Electrical engineers from YEDL were contacted by South Yorkshire Police and firefighters.
A police spokeswoman said: “We received a report of a small explosion at 12.14pm. It was an electrical fault which dislodged a few bricks and a manhole cover. YEDL dealt with it.”