ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. – A gasoline tanker overturned, crashed into a vacant building and burst into flames early Wednesday on New York's Long Island, shutting down traffic for hours and spilling fuel into the sewer system, authorities said.
“When I came here, there was fire everywhere, the streets, the tanker, the two buildings, and when I looked down Sunrise Highway, there was fire coming out of seven or eight manhole covers,” James Avondet, fire chief for the village of Rockville Centre, said after the 1 a.m. crash.
The truck's driver was injured in the crash, and three of the 150 firefighters who responded were also treated for injuries, officials said at a news conference later Wednesday. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
The tanker crashed into a vacant La-Z-Boy showroom at North Center Avenue and Sunrise Highway, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of New York City.
“There were about 9,200 gallons (34,825 liters) on the gasoline tanker when it flipped and caught fire,” Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said. “The driver was able to self-extricate and he was transported to to a local hospital.”
Fuel got into the sewer system and into creeks, where it was being contained with booms, Uttaro said.
“So there’s no threat to the environment at the moment,” he said. “There’s no threat to any of the citizens or any homes.”
The Coast Guard was helping to map the spill, he said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said several state agencies, including the departments of environmental conservation and transportation and the state police, were assisting in the response to the explosion and fuel spill.
The environmental department used a drone to assess potential effects, Hochul said.
Authorities received a call about 1:10 a.m., Avondet said, and “upon arrival I saw a tanker truck that was on its side."
A video posted to Twitter showed thick black smoke billowing from the Rockville Centre building that the truck crashed into, which was fully engulfed in flames, while firefighters worked to put out the blaze.
The La-Z-Boy building was destroyed in the fire, and another building was damaged.
Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control “in a relatively short time with very few injuries," Avondet said.
“We’re very glad if it was going to happen it happened at 1:00 in the morning with nobody else around," he said.
The water in Rockville Centre was safe to drink, although it “might be a little yellow," Avondet said.
Sunrise Highway and several other roads near the crash site remained closed as of 3 p.m.
Power was restored in the area by midafternoon after being shut off as a precaution, said Julie Grilli, a spokesperson for the village of Rockville Centre.