Underground explosion blows manhole cover into the air downtown

A manhole cover was lifted metres into the air by an underground explosion on Church Street on Sunday morning.

People downtown heard loud bangs and smoke pouring out from the manhole

A manhole cover flew into the air after pressure from a smoking hydro cable caused such an intense pressure build-up it generated a small explosion. (Barry Smith/CBC)

A smouldering hydro cable apparently caused a manhole cover to shoot about a metre and a half into the air Sunday morning on Church Street north of The Esplanade. 

Brown smoke poured from the hole and loud banging noises rang out from the cavernous subterranean network of cables. 

Cpt. Michael Westwood said Toronto Fire received "a few calls" around 9:30 a.m.

Toronto Hydro workers investigated and found a "burnt-up cable" in a cable chamber, said spokeswoman Mallory Cunnington.

The smoke from the cable caused a pressure buildup, which led to the explosion because the cable chamber was close to a manhole cover, she explained to CBC Toronto. 

"Cables tend to burn up from time to time," she said. "But it's not often we see a manhole cover blow off like that." 

The 121 Fort York-Esplanade bus was diverted but is now back to its regular route.