'There Was Fire Coming Out of Manhole Covers'

Gas tanker slammed into Long Island La-Z-Boy showroom, exploded
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2022 3:08 PM CST
Gas Tanker Explodes in La-Z-Boy Showroom
Emergency personnel work at the site of a gas tanker accident in Rockville Centre, NY, early Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Alex DiGregorio)

Firefighters from at least 18 municipalities rushed to the scene early Wednesday after a tanker carrying more than 9,000 gallons of gasoline overturned, slammed into a La-Z-Boy showroom in Long Island, caught fire, and exploded. Authorities say the driver lost control of the tanker around 1am and crashed into the showroom in Rockville Centre, around 30 miles east of New York City. The furniture store and a nearby liquor store caught fire and fuel spilled into the sewers. "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," said Rockville Centre Fire Chief James Avondet, per the New York Daily News. "It’s one of the worst things I’ve seen in my 47-year career."

"The driver was able to self-extricate and he was transported to to a local hospital," said Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro. Three of the approximately 150 firefighters who responded were also hospitalized, the AP reports. The La-Z-Boy building collapsed but firefighters managed to stop the blaze from spreading to a nearby gas station. "We’re very glad if it was going to happen it happened at one o'clock in the morning with nobody else around,” Avondet said. Authorities say some of the fuel got into local creeks, where it is being contained with booms. (In 2020, a woman who had given birth three days earlier helped save the life of a driver who was on fire after a tanker crash.)

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