A tanker truck holding 15,000 gallons of liquid asphalt exploded...

A tanker truck holding 15,000 gallons of liquid asphalt exploded Tuesday afternoon in Melville, off Spangoli Road Tuesday. Credit: CHRISTOPHER SABELLA

A liquid asphalt tank exploded Tuesday afternoon at a Melville asphalt plant, with thick plumes of black smoke visible for miles, authorities said.

The 15,000-pound tank burst into flames just before 1 p.m. at Rason Asphalt, located at 136 Spagnoli Road, just narrowly avoiding four other tanks, Suffolk police and fire department officials said.

Several unoccupied nearby vehicles also caught fire, officials said. There were no injuries.

The tank was located next to three other tanks that were also filled with liquid asphalt and another filled with diesel fuel but first responders were able to keep the fire contained to the original tank, said Dave Kaplan, chief of the Melville Fire Department.

It is unclear how much liquid asphalt was in the tank when it exploded, Kaplan said.

Kaplan said authorities "do not believe" the chemicals inside the tank were toxic but the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Huntington Fire Marshal and Suffolk County Arson Squad responded to the scene.

It's unclear what started the fire but it is not believed to be suspicious, Kaplan said.

The fire was under control shortly before 2 p.m., he said.

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