Fire at Delancey St. Station May Have Started During Copper Wire Theft: Sources

Service has been restored to the J, Z and M trains

A fire at a subway station suspended service on three lines in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Friday afternoon, and sources say there's evidence it was started after someone tried to steal a copper wire underground.

Fire Department officials described the smoke as "light" Friday afternoon at the Delancey Street - Essex Street station on the Lower East Side.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Charles Seaton said a J train became stuck inside a "no power area" at the Essex Street station at 2:50 p.m on Friday.

The train reversed back to the Essex St. Station and approximately 500 passengers were evacuated. 

Sources told NBC 4 New York Friday night that the fire could have been sparked when a cable fell across the third rail and a track rail as someone tried to steal an underground copper wire. 

The spark of electricity along the rail caused the fire and smoke condition.

Another source told NBC 4 New York that investigators think the suspected copper wire theft may be part of a larger operation, and the source said tools used for cutting were found in a closet-sized enclosure in the tunnel.

The source says it appears the theft has been going on for months, and in all, as many as two thousand feet of cable appear to be missing from the station.

Service to the J, Z and M trains were fully restored Friday night.

No injuries have been reported at this time.

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