Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A piece of Long Island history went up in flames Thursday.
Clouds of thick black smoke rose from a garage in Suffolk County that’s been part of the community for nearly 100 years.
The building, a landmark on busy Portion Road in Lake Ronkonkoma, exploded in flames just after 12:30 p.m. Black billowing smoke could be seen for miles.
Newton’s Garage has been there since 1910.
“When we got here, the whole thing was in flames. And we could hear the fire sirens coming. And the firemen weren’t here. And then they were here quickly, and the thing just engulfed. Crazy, crazy,” said witness Annette Dale. “I’m sad. I was shaking when I got here because I was sad that this is gone.”
The auto body shop appeared to almost detonate due to gasoline and oil within. The fire happened during repair to one of the vehicles inside. Residents stood across the street recording the startling scene.
“We received a call around 12:34 this afternoon for a structure fire, a commercial structure fire. Upon arrival, we had a fully involved auto body shop. The owner of the business was working on a vehicle and had probably accidentally started a fire,” said Ronkonkoma Fire Chief Kevin Murray.
The owner of the garage suffered burns to his hands. His hands were burned when he went back inside to recover some religious relics, a friend of his told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
School dismissals were affected due to road closures.
“All we hear is like, pff, like bomb noises. And we all got evacuated inside the building, and everyone was nervous,” said middle school student Sean Romeo.
Eight automobiles were destroyed along with the building.