NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — Black, billowing smoke could be seen as far away as Brooklyn as it rolled through the sky from the large fire under the 138th Street bridge. The burning pilings in the Harlem River sent orange flames shooting into air as FDNY boat units raced to the scene to douse the flames.
The fire, which began shortly before noon, brought Metro-North service to a standstill, but was under control in just under two hours after firefighters raced to contain the damage.
Metro-North said regular rush-hour service resumed in and out of Grand Central Terminal on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines.
The fire paralyzed Grand Central station with thousands of commuters trying to figure how to get home. With everyone being routed uptown by subway to pick up limited service at 168th street, Metro North riders were frustrated, CBS 2’s Mark Morgan reported.
“It’s a nightmare. I gotta find a way home and it’s going to be the subway I guess,” Bill Bridge of Norwalk, Connecticut said.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg also spoke with some commuters who were left stranded as fire officials battled the blaze.
“They let everybody off here at Yankee Stadium,” one commuter said during the delays, “so we’re stuck.”
Some even decided to avoid plans in the city and headed home, including Aaron Tavarez, who was planning to go back to Ardsley.
“It’s very frustrating,” Tavarez said, “this is what anyone doesn’t want to hear – trains are not working.”
Everyday commuters were not the only ones affected. Morgan spoke to a group of tourists from Florida, who tried to take their delay in stride.
“We’re trying to get back to Orlando today for a flight out of White Plains,” Jeff Westphal said, “and we’re trying to figure out how to get to White Plains to get our flight.”
The Fire Department said the cause was not immediately known.
According to the The New York Times, reports suggested a blown transformer at the base of the bridge may have sparked the fire.