A four-alarm fire near Long Island Rail Road tracks in Hicksville, Queens, will make for a chaotic commute home for many straphangers Friday evening.
At 4:50 p.m., the MTA said that service on the Hempstead and Oyster Bay Branches will resume with potential delays and cancellations, and trains will operate once an hour to Huntington and Ronkonkoma. Westbound service on the Main Line remains suspended.
Earlier in the afternoon, the MTA released this statement:
Because of an ongoing four-alarm fire this afternoon at a property next to LIRR tracks at Hillside in Queens, the Long Island Rail Road is advising customers of four Main Line branches to consider traveling via the Babylon Branch, West Hempstead Branch, Montauk Branch or Port Washington Branch.
Normal service remains suspended until further notice on the Port Jefferson Branch, Ronkonkoma Branch, Oyster Bay Branch and Hempstead Branch. The LIRR has been advised by FDNY to expect a prolonged firefighting operation.
During the evening commute, the LIRR will run extra trains from Penn Station to Babylon. At Babylon, riders will be able to connect to trains running to Hicksville – where there will be additional eastbound service to Huntington, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma.
The LIRR is mobilizing bus service from Rockville Centre to Mineola.
The LIRR will have additional personnel on-hand at Penn Station and Jamaica this evening to assist customers. Riders can expect sporadic delays and crowds throughout the commute. FDNY personnel have been responding to the fire throughout the afternoon. After FDNY allows LIRR personnel access to the tracks, the railroad will perform safety and functionality inspections of rails, third rail, signals and communications equipment prior to restoring service.
• Eastbound to Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma: Change at Babylon and Hicksville
The LIRR will add extra trains to the Babylon Branch. Those additional train departure times will be announced at Penn Station. At Babylon Station, customers will be able to connect with a diesel shuttle from Babylon to Hicksville, where customers would be able to connect with eastbound trains to Huntington, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma. The LIRR is reconfiguring the locations of its crews and trains to be able to operate the shuttles to and from Hicksville.
• Eastbound to Main Line, Hempstead and Oyster Bay: Use Alternate Branches
Service will remain suspended on the Hempstead Branch and Oyster Bay Branch and at New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Carle Place and Westbury.
• Bus Service to Mineola
For service to Mineola, customers should board a Babylon Branch train to Rockville Centre for a bus shuttle to Mineola.
• Westbound Service: Use Alternate Branches
Customers of the Main Line branches (Ronkonkoma, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Oyster Bay) seeking to travel westbound should make their way to the Babylon Branch for regularly scheduled westbound service.