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Blaze at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury destroys barn

Firefighters beat back a fire Sunday morning, Nov.

Firefighters beat back a fire Sunday morning, Nov. 30, 2014, that had engulfed a large, unoccupied barn at the 161-year-old Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, authorities said. Credit: Lou Minutoli

Firefighters extinguished a fire Sunday morning that engulfed a large, unoccupied barn at the 161-year-old Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, authorities said.

Fire crews from Hicksville, Carle Place, Williston Park, Mineola and East Meadow contained the blaze about 11 a.m., after battling flames that started shortly after 10 a.m. in the 30-by-70-foot barn at the nursery, at 100 Jericho Tpke.

The building that caught fire is about 100 yards from the nursery on the same property.

Westbury Assistant Fire Chief Ken Gass said the fire was kept to the site. He said about 75 firefighters responded. The blaze is under investigation, but Gass said there was nothing suspicious about it so far.

Hicks Nurseries manager Suzie Vezza said the building was unoccupied and is largely used to store plants in the summer and spring. No animals were in danger.

"This is just something strange," she said Sunday morning. "I'm not sure what caused it."

Hicks Nurseries is a gardening hub and popular destination for Christmas events, visits with Santa and reindeer. The nursery was established in 1853, according to its website.

Starting this weekend, the nursery began hosting an animated Christmas story and village. Reindeer arrived Saturday to be on site through Dec. 23. The holiday store opened at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Vezza said shoppers were temporarily blocked from the front entrance to help control the fire. But it reopened and by 11 a.m. more than 100 shoppers were looking through Christmas trees, ornaments and other holiday items.

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