What to Know
- A raging fire near the Long Island Rail Road tracks east of Jamaica Station completely shut down four LIRR lines for hours
- Service was slowly returning by early evening, but the commute still promised to be a mess for people trying to get home
- Photos from the scene showed thick black smoke, fueled by strong wind gusts, billowing out over about a half-dozen rows of parked LIRR cars
A huge fire at a recycling plant near the Long Island Rail Road's main line hampered service for thousands of commuters trying to get home for the weekend.
The fire mucked up the evening commute for thousands of riders on the nation's busiest commuter rail line and completely knocked out the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Oyster Bay, Hempstead branches for hours, promising a chaotic evening rush for commuters trying to get home from Penn Station. Other branches also saw delayed service as a result of the fire. But service resumed by late Friday.
Photos from the scene showed thick black smoke, fueled by strong wind gusts, billowing out over about a half-dozen rows of parked LIRR cars on the tracks. Intense flames were seen leaping over a fence, near power lines.
While crews said they had stopped the spread of the fire, they estimated at about 11 p.m. on Friday that it'd take another 13 hours to fully extinguish the blaze fueled by 10- to 15-foot-tall stacks of old newspapers and cardboard.
Storm Team 4 said winds in the area were sustained at 15-25 mph, with occasional gusts nearing 40 mph, further contributing to firefighting difficulties.
Still, no nearby homes were impacted and only one firefighter had minor injured.
Multiple LIRR Branches Suspended 'Until Further Notice' Due to Fire
A number of trains were canceled as the fire raged early Friday afternoon. Others were delayed; still others were held at various stations. Notify NYC, the city's official emergency management notification system, warned of traffic delays in the area and said people should close their windows to avoid smoke.
The subway was cross-honoring LIRR tickets at Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills and Woodside.
LIRR customers were encouraged to use alternate branches, including the Port Washington and Babylon branches. NYC Transit is cross-honoring LIRR tickets at Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills and Woodside, according to the MTA.
The news comes the same day that NJ Transit commuters experienced suspended service and subsequent delays between New York Penn Station and Newark Penn after a portal bridge got stuck open, which created a Friday commute disaster for tens of thousands of riders on multiple branches.
Get real-time transit updates from all your key commute sources, including LIRR and NJ Transit, below.