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Fire destroys K’s Auto Repair near Mineola LIRR station, authorities say

More than 100 firefighters fought to control a blaze at K's Auto Repair shop at 74 Willis Ave. in Mineola, Thursday, March 2, 2017. The fire was finally brought under control at 3:15 a.m. Friday, almost four hours after it was reported at 11:30 p.m., said Michael Uttaro, the assistant chief fire marshal of Nassau County. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Firefighters worked for hours to control an overnight blaze that destroyed an auto shop in Mineola.

The fire, punctuated by explosions, at K’s Auto Repair was finally brought under control at 3:15 a.m. Friday, almost four hours after it was reported at 11:30 p.m., said Michael Uttaro, the assistant chief fire marshal of Nassau County.

He said the county office of Emergency Management was going to send in heavy equipment to knock down the building at 74 Willis Ave.

Business owner Kevin Thomas, 66, of Farmingville, said at the scene later in the morning that he felt “like I had been punched in the stomach.”

He said he could not find his dog, Dobie, an 11-year-old female who stayed in the garage at night. “She meant everything” to him, Thomas said.

He said he had insurance, but thought the current location was “beyond repair.”

An adjoining business, Precision Auto Detail at 70 Willis Ave., was not damaged, owner Anthony Petito of Seaford said.

“They called me about 12 a.m. and told me there was a fire,” Petito said. “My power is still off, but other than that I’m OK.”

The fire occurred just east of where the Oyster Bay branch of the Long Island Rail Road merges into the Main Line.

“The building is literally right in between the two sets of tracks,” Uttaro said.

Service was suspended or disrupted on several lines, but had returned to normal by the morning rush, the LIRR said.

The arson-bomb squad of the Nassau County police was also investigating as a matter of routine, a police spokesman said. He said the cause of the fire had not been determined.

At 2 a.m., more than 100 firefighters fought to get the fire under control using an outside operation with water jetted into the industrial fire from four tower ladders, authorities said. Burning inside the building were 12 vehicles and four Boar’s Head delivery trucks, Uttaro said.

“The entire roof is gone, and the walls have collapsed in numerous areas,” Uttaro said. “When I first got here, there was smoke . . . here were flames out the roof and through the windows.”

Compressed gas tanks in the building exploded, but no one was hurt, Uttaro said.

Flames spread toward the Western Beef supermarket behind the auto-repair business, he said. Firefighters were able to confine the damage to the roof and exterior walls, authorities said.

With William Murphy

CORRECTION: The name of the business ravaged by fire was incorrect in previous versions of this story because of incorrect information provided by officials. It is K’s Auto Repair at 74 Willis Ave.

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