It was another rough Friday evening commute on the Long Island Rail Road, this time due to a five-alarm fire by its tracks in Queens, officials said.
Delays, cancellations, congestion and crowding were rife as the railroad struggled to restore both east- and westbound service, according to its Twitter account.
All service on the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Oyster Bay and Hempstead branches was suspended earlier Friday afternoon as the FDNY battled a fire that broke out shortly before 1 p.m. at a “large area of outside rubbish” at a recycling plant at 187-40 Jamaica Ave.
The railroad’s parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, warned in a statement that service during the evening commute would be “severely impacted” after it been told by the FDNY to expect “a prolonged firefighting operation.”
On some branches, normal service did not resume until after 7 p.m., and around 9 p.m. there were still residual delays averaging 15 minutes on some lines
New York City firefighters were still on the scene of the blaze Friday evening.
“The fire is not under control, we predict we will operate for the next 18 hours or so due to the size of the fire,” the FDNY said on Twitter at 6:18 p.m., calling it “a long, protracted operation through the night” and into Saturday.
The FDNY said 44 units — fire engines and ladder trucks, for example — were sent to the fire, along with about 200 firefighters at one point.
Pictures of the blaze, posted on the LIRR’s Twitter account, showed a row of firefighters turning hoses on a fire along the tracks; thick, black smoke billowed to the sky.
Firefighters found “large amounts of accumulated storage of newspapers, cardboard materials, some stacked 10-15 ft. high,” according to the FDNY’s evening Twitter posts.
Some of the burning rubbish was being carted out in heavy dumpsters, the FDNY said.
After the blaze is extinguished, LIRR noted its workers will have to wait until firefighters clear them to examine the tracks and other equipment for damage.
The MTA said they must carry out “safety and functionality inspections of rails, third rail, signals and communications equipment prior to restoring service.”