Electrical issue causes manhole explosions near National Mall

Tourists and pedestrians encountered some scary moments in downtown D.C. Sunday when three manholes exploded and sent covers into the air.

It happened in the heart of the National Mall in the middle of the afternoon.

Kristen Wimmer of Ellicott City spoke with FOX 5 about seeing and hearing the explosion firsthand. Wimmer said she was leaving a museum with her family Sunday afternoon when the incident occurred.

Wimmer says there wasn't widespread panic, but she says it was certainly an alarming sight.

Pepco says they got the call at 4 p.m.

A fire official on the scene said there were three explosions in all that sent manhole covers shooting in the air. Emergency crews responded to 7th Street, just before Jefferson, in the heart of the National Mall.

The fire official says a salt mix and snow got through to electrical wires underground, saturating them and causing the explosions.

Pepco responded and, while they worked on the problem, police blocked off a stretch of 7th street and kept motorists from getting to their cars.