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The steam explosion that rocked Lexington Avenue near Grand Central Terminal Wednesday took place within yards of the offices of several major law firms. One of the largest, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, located at 451 Lexington, closed its offices yesterday and encouraged lawyers to work from home. Firm executive director Michael Hersch explained that the utility, Consolidated Edison, had advised the firm that only limited power could be supplied to the building, preventing the use of computers, most lighting and air conditioning. Simpson Thacher’s situation, which Mr. Hersch said he expected to be rectified by this morning, contrasted with that at the next-door Chrysler building, even closer to the blast. There an alternate power supply and Third Avenue access allowed tenants like Blank Rome to open for business, but that firm said yesterday its phone service had been disrupted, with no incoming calls getting through. Davis Polk & Wardwell’s offices at 450 Lexington were also open for business. But fear of asbestos-laden debris from the blast caused Davis Polk to allow employees to stay home if they felt uncomfortable coming in. Moreover, though the city announced throughout the day that the air in the area was testing negative for asbestos, the firm said it had turned off all air coming into the building from the outside as an added precaution.

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