For many people in the New York City area, summer weekends are for heading to the beach to cool off and building bonfires for late sunsets. Though, bonfires don’t typically include a billowing plume of black smoke. News 12 Long Island reported that a blaze nearby residents saw last weekend was not a bonfire, but several buses burning.
After 6 p.m. on Saturday, firefighters responded to reports of a large fire at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford, NY. Eleven buses were on fire at the scene, with the smoke visible from several miles away. The buses belonged to Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE), a subsidized private bus system primarily serving Nassau County on Long Island, just east of New York City.
The NICE buses were sitting in a lot waiting to be transferred to a junkyard to be scrapped. The buses were powered by compressed natural gas, and those tanks were emptied of CNG in preparation for their destruction. However, the buses still had fuel storage cylinders fitted. The Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office cites that those cylinders ruptured during the fire, but don’t yet know what sparked the blaze.
James Hickman, a Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office representative, told News 12 Long Island:
“People as far as Long Beach could see the smoke. We had the buses, we had tires. These are natural gas buses. There is no natural gas on the buses, but they still had compressed gas cylinders. Some of those ruptured. It was rather spectacular. There was shrapnel going a good distance.”
Thankfully, no one was injured by the fire, and the decommissioned buses that are burnt out won’t impact the bus service’s operations. Nassau Inter-County Express is in the middle of transitioning from its compressed natural gas fleet to battery electric buses. The model the service has ordered is the same New Flyer model that caught fire and was temporarily pulled from service in Connecticut.