NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cleanup is underway Friday after a massive steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron District. The high-pressure pipe burst without warning just before 7 a.m. Thursday on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, ripping apart the pavement and sending plumes of white steam into the air. “A huge white plume of smoke emerging from somewhere underground,” said area employee Renee Lovett. “Sounded like someone hosing down our window,” said Daniela Caso. “It’s scary and unsettling.” Authorities testing the pipe, which was built in 1932, confirmed asbestos in the area. Nearly 50 buildings were evacuated and decontamination tents were set up for first responders and those who live and work in the area. “There’s going to be a thorough assessment to make sure all the buildings are clean and safe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. With bags in hand, some New Yorkers were forced out of their homes while other decided to get out of town. “We’re trying to leave for the weekend and get away from this mess,” said resident Staberos T. “I just got back. I feel a little scratchy in the throat,” said Erica Tarnoff. Barricades are now set up all over the area so getting in or out is no easy task as businesses remain closed until further notice. “If many of them have to be closed for multiple days, that’s a huge loss of business impacts,” said Jennifer Brown with the Flatiron 23rd Street partnership. Closures include the area between 23rd Street, Park Avenue South, 19th Street and Sixth Avenue. The M1, M2, M3 and M55 buses are also being detoured to Seventh Avenue.