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Oil truck fire by Massapequa church out; residents allowed back to homes

Firefighters battle a blaze in a heating-oil truck

Firefighters battle a blaze in a heating-oil truck Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, after it caught fire on Merrick Road near the St. Rose of Lima Parish church in Massapequa. The church and homes nearby were evacuated and part of Merrick Road was closed in both directions. Photo Credit: Kevin Madigan

A heating-oil truck burst into flames on a Massapequa street Sunday morning, leading emergency responders to shut down streets and evacuate several homes and a church.

About 100 firefighters and 12 fire trucks from Massapequa, Seaford, South Farmingdale and Wantagh responded to the scene, where flames shot up and heavy black smoke billowed from the disabled truck near the St. Rose of Lima Parish Church.

Firefighters worked for 45 minutes to douse the blaze coming from the truck, which was carrying about 3,500 gallons of heating oil, Massapequa Fire Department Chief Stephen Daresta said.

The oil truck driver, Michael Bryant, 30, said he was traveling along Merrick Road on the way to his next stop when he heard a loud bang.

"Flames started coming from everywhere. The door caught on fire. I just jumped out," he said. "I'm trying not to think of it, but I'm happy I didn't lose my life."

He said he was questioned at the scene by firefighters, but told them he wasn't injured and didn't need medical attention.

Police said they received a call at 10:38 a.m. indicating a truck on fire at 4704 Merrick Rd.

About 30 people were evacuated from the church, in addition to people from a dozen homes near the site, Daresta said. Nassau police said Grace Episcopal Church on Cedar Shore Drive also was evacuated.

Residents were allowed back to their homes by 1 p.m., Daresta said, and the truck, still parked on Merrick Road Sunday, was expected to be removed sometime later.

Police said the Nassau County fire marshal is investigating. No injuries were reported.

The truck appeared to belong to S&S Fuel of West Babylon. A man who answered at the company Sunday declined to comment.

Massapequa resident Sarah Convertito, 22, didn't see the fire, but took notice when dozens of first responder vehicles drove by her home. "I looked out the window and saw a lot of smoke. It's good that the driver is OK."

With Aisha Al-Muslim

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