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Officials investigate sewer explosion near Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Utility officials are trying to figure out why a sewer exploded near Milwaukee’s downtown Pfister Hotel.

It caused about 550 We Energies’ electric customers to lose their power as of late Sunday night – and almost 430 were still in the dark at 3:30 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters were called around 5:25 p.m. Sunday to a downtown Milwaukee intersection where smoke was seeping from a manhole cover. Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said pedestrians were being moved away when another manhole blew up about 175 feet away near Mason and Jefferson streets.

The only injury was to a woman who was thrown from the blast – and she was not taken to a hospital.

Lipski said a large amount of asphalt was heaved. Chunks of the black material littered the streets.

Cathy Schulze of We Energies said her crews were looking at an underground electric cable as the possible source of the problem, but it’s too early to tell for sure. No one was evacuated.

Pfister Hotel guests and nearby residents were asked to stay in their buildings until the source of the problem could be tracked down. One resident said the blast sounded like a sonic boom.