Transformer Explosion In Queens Lights Up Sky, Briefly Shuts Down LaGuardia

December 27, 2018 - 10:18 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- An apparent transformer explosion at a Con Edison substation in Queens knocked out power to LaGuardia Airport and lit up the night sky blue Thursday.

Con Edison says a "brief electrical fire" occurred around 9:15 p.m. in Astoria.

One video showed what appeared to be smoke and flames coming from the substation.


Robert Sinclair of AAA Northeast was in the area at the time and described to WCBS 880 what he saw.

"The TV went out, all the lights dimmed and then came back on and then there was an incredibly bright light from outside. The light was so strong that it was able to be seen through drawn blinds and curtains. I went upstairs in my house and there was an intense bright light coming from the Con Ed plant. There are smoke stacks at the west end of the plant and they were lit up, illuminated like it was daytime," he said. "Smoke was pouring from the plant and there was a giant humming sound, it sounded like a short circuit happening but constantly and just this incredibly, intense bright light for about three to four minutes."

In a tweet Con Edison said, "There was a brief electrical fire at our substation in Astoria which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area." Police said the fire is under control.

The fire lit up the night sky with a bright blue light, causing a stir on social media.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the light was caused by an electrical surge.

LaGuardia Airport was shut down and a ground stop was issued as Con Edison worked to restore power to the facility.

Power was fully restored to the airport at around 11 p.m.

The power failure also briefly disrupted subway service on the 7 line.


No injuries were reported and Con Edison said "all power lines serving the area are in service and the system is stable."

The incident is under investigation.