'It was like lava': Spectacular fire burns vehicles, damages homes in Bronx
Video shows a box truck and other vehicles burning near an elevated subway line, damaging homes
By Harry Parker, Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A box truck caught fire on a Bronx street early Wednesday, sparking a massive inferno that destroyed several nearby vehicles, the FDNY and witnesses said.
A box truck for a company contracted by the city’s Department of Transportation caught fire around 5:30 a.m. near the corner of Dyre Ave. and Light St. in Eastchester, just a few feet from an elevated train line.
Heavy smoke and flames, which quickly spread and consumed several cars near the corner, could be seen from the elevated station.
FDNY Fire Marshals were trying to determine what sparked the blaze and how it spread so quickly.
The truck belonged to a markings contractor who was working on filling in new pedestrian space under the elevated train with epoxy gravel, DOT officials said.
Video of the conflagration shows something from the box truck leaking out and spreading to the other cars. The fire quickly followed.
“(It was) like lava,” one area resident, who only identified himself as Horace, told the Daily News. “(It was) like gunpowder, but it gave a fire stream and it ran along here and burnt up this car.”
Horace and several other residents recalled hearing several explosions as the fires spread.
“(There was an) explosion, an earth-shaking explosion. Not just a noise like a gunshot,” Horace said. “It was unbelievable. You would think a plane crashed down here. A lot of people don’t have power.”
FDNY officials said the explosions were most likely the vehicle tires becoming superheated and popping. Propane tanks were found in at least one vehicle, but did not explode, an FDNY source said.
Firefighters responding to the scene found the vehicles fully engulfed in flames. It took more than 60 firefighters an hour to put them out, an FDNY spokesman said.
The heat from the blazes was so intense that it damaged nearby homes, residents said.
“Each time I’m hearing the explosion getting closer and closer,” resident Antoinette Hoo told The News. “And when I opened my door, I can feel the heat. I see the flames under the door. I said, ‘The fire is going to come upstairs.’ I was crying.”
“It looked devastating. It was an orange flame,” Horace recalled. “The fire was like an intense wall coming to the houses. We were ready to go.”
The truck that caught fire belonged to a company contracted by the city to paint the road, witnesses said. The crew stopped when the truck started smoking and unsuccessfully tried to put the growing flames out with a fire extinguisher.
Horace’s work van and his Mercedes Benz were destroyed by the inferno, he said.
No injuries were reported.