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Amid call in Wantagh, possible sinkhole threatens firefighters

After receiving a call from a homeowner about

After receiving a call from a homeowner about a fire in a propane barbecue grill, firefighters from the Wantagh Fire Department responded to Briar Avenue in Wantagh on Wednesday evening, Aug. 5, 2015, where they put the leaking propane tank into a steel drum so the contents could be safely burned off. Credit: John Scalesi

It was just a propane-fire call in Wantagh Wednesday -- until the earth moved.

The roadway started cracking underneath the rear of a fire rig on Briar Lane, where firefighters had gone about 6 p.m. to put out a barbecue grill fire and burn off fuel in a leaking, 20-pound cylinder.

"When you all of a sudden see bubbles and clay and dirt coming up from the middle of the street, that's usually a problem," said Ken Kelly, second assistant chief for the Wantagh fire department.

The fire truck's driver first noticed it, Kelly said.

"We were afraid of the rig falling into a possible sinkhole," the chief said. "All we did was scoot the rig up 10 feet and everything was OK."

The sinkhole in the making, about 5 feet square, barely stopped firefighters from handling the burnoff in the middle of the roadway, Kelly said.

Nothing sank and the road surface did not collapse, the fire official said, but the street breakup was likely caused by old age.

Hempstead Town officials arrived to inspect the cracks and cordoned off a wider swath for Thursday's repairs, Kelly said.

No one was hurt, he said.

Later, there was some chuckling among firefighters over what may be a pre-sinkhole.

As to how heavy the rig was, Kelly said he wasn't sure. He knew one thing: "We did not cause the hole."


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