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‘Suspicious’ fire burns truck, bus in Valley Stream, say officials

Valley Stream firefighters battle a blaze that engulfed

Valley Stream firefighters battle a blaze that engulfed a tractor trailer on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, in a parking lot outside the Toys R Us store on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream. Photo Credit: Steve Grogan

A man who robbed a 7-Eleven on Friday got away in a small, white bus that later burned in a Valley Stream fire that spread to a truck full of liquor, Nassau officials said.

A man inside the cab of the truck, which was loaded with cases of liquor, escaped without injury before flames engulfed his vehicle, said Valley Stream fire chief Jim Ervolino.

The “suspicious” blaze started in the bus and spread to the eighteen-wheeler parked next to it outside a Toys R Us at the Green Acres Mall, a sight that sparked calls to authorities just before 8:40 a.m., county fire and police officials said.

Ervolino said the scene was handed over to Nassau County police and the Nassau County fire marshal after investigators found evidence that the fire may not have been accidental.

Nassau police said the bus was the getaway vehicle for a gunman who stole money and cigarettes from the Hewlett 7-Eleven on Mill Road about 8:05 a.m.

The thief at first appeared to shop, but when the clerk opened the cash register, the robber pulled out a black, semiautomatic handgun, police said. He dumped the register drawer’s contents and cigarettes into an empty cardboard box, then seized a second, register drawer, police said.

He then drove east on Mill Road in a white bus that resembled a paratransit bus.

About 9:30 a.m., detectives were notified of the bus fire and investigators from the arson and bomb squad impounded the vehicle.

Ervolino said the Valley Stream firefighters put out the blaze in about 45 minutes.

Fourth Precinct detectives are looking for the gunman, who wore black pants, black sweatshirt and a black baseball cap, police said. They ask anyone with information to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS.

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