Westbury recycling plant fire: LIRR service resumes after massive blaze

Long Island
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WESTBURY, L.I. — Service along multiple Long Island Rail Road lines was suspended Thursday morning between Hicksville and Mineola after a fire ripped through a large Westbury waste facility overnight.

According to police, a call came in around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday for a fire at Jamaica Ash and Rubbish Removal, a solid waste and environmental management company located at 228 Grand Blvd.

Officers arrived to find the 600,000 square-foot facility fully engulfed in flames, police said.

The Westbury Fire Department and 67 additional area fire departments responded and battled the blaze through the night and into Thursday morning, according to the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office. 

They were officially able to extinguish the fire by around 10 a.m., according to authorities. 
However, thick smoke and hotspot fires continued to smolder well into Thursday evening.

Westbury Fire Department Chief Kenneth Gass Jr. said on the scene that the blaze was something that could not be remedied in a day, as far as full extinguishment.

Portions of the building had collapsed, along with parts of the roof, according to the fire chief.
“The entire building is compromised,” he told PIX11.

By Thursday evening, crews using heavy equipment started demolishing parts of the facility, while smoke continued to billow from other sections of the facility.  

Luckily, police confirmed Thursday there were no injuries reported and said the investigation was ongoing.

Due to the fire, LIRR service was initially suspended Thursday morning along the Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson lines. That service was restored around 9 a.m. but with some cancellations and residual delays “as we operate on 1 track instead of 2 tracks through the area,” the LIRR said on Twitter.

At around 11 a.m., the LIRR tweeted that there were delays averaging 30 minutes in both directions on both of the lines affected by the fire.

Also, some local residents expressed concern about the smoke, which wafted heavily through the New Cassel neighborhood of Westbury all night Wednesday and all day Thursday.

Luis Mendez, a local activist and executive director of Empowering Young Professionals of Long Island, said that the fire was a reminder that the facility is a danger to the surrounding community.

“This is a residential neighborhood,” he said. “In the middle, we have a garbage dump.  That’s the way you describe it. We’ve got homes here,” he continued, pointing to the houses across the street from the facility, and then pointing to the facility itself. “There’s a garbage dump.”

He said that the facility should be relocated.

PIX11 News was not able to reach the owners of the facility, Jamaica Ash and Rubbish Removal, for comment.

Riders can check mta.info or consult the LIRR Train Time app for the latest updates.

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