DETROIT (WWJ) – Officials say an underground electrical problem sent three manhole covers into the air in downtown Detroit, prompting the evacuation of an office building.

Fire crews were called to 333 West Fort Street, between Washington and Cass, around 8 a.m. Tuesday as smoke filled the basement of the office building.

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There was no fire in the building, but people were evacuated because of the smoke.

WWJ’s Charlie Langton described the scene as chaotic, with dozens of police and fire officials milling around.

Fire Chief John King said the whole situation unfolded after three manhole covers apparently “blew up.”

“We believe we have some underground wiring that has affected the scene. This building right here has been evacuated because of the amount of smoke that was accumulating in the basement, but there is no fire in this building nor has it affected the electrical in this building,” he said. “But it’s being evacuated and it will be shut down the rest of the day.”

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Motorists are urged to avoid the area because, King said, another manhole cover could blow at any time.

“We’re always worried about that, that’s why we want to keep as many people aware of what’s going on as possible because we don’t want people to be near them and be aware that they will fly up in the air and come down and hurt someone,” said King.

DTE Energy crews were  sent to the building, although a spokesman for DTE said it wasn’t immediately clear if their service was involved or affected.

No injuries were reported.

The all clear was given and everyone was allowed back into the building before 10:30 a.m.

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