A blown transformer knocked out power at the Hilton
New York Hotel in midtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon, trapping people in
elevators and causing smoky conditions, officials said.
Many guests in upper floors walked
down dozens of flights of stairs to evacuate the building. Three people
suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, officials said.
Firefighters rescued nine people from
two stuck elevators.
The transformer, in a sub-basement of
the hotel, crackled and exploded with one large boom and then shorter
bursts, according to witnesses.
The explosion "sounded like gunfire," said Mark Parrell, who was attending a conference at the hotel.
Guests staying on upper floors said they didn't hear the explosion, and only noticed their lights went dark.
"Everything just went out," said Erin
Salstrom, a guest visiting from Minnesota. She said guests on floors 4
to 44 were told they didn't have to evacuate, but she and her husband
decided to walk down the 26 flights anyway.
Power was not expected to be restored
to the hotel, which was at full capacity with 3,000 guests, until
Thursday or Friday, Hodgens said. The hotel is making arrangements for people to stay elsewhere.