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LIRR Fire Strands Commuters

The commute home on the Long Island Rail Road will be a mess, after a fire suspended service this afternoon.



) -- Long Island Rail Road service partially resumed Monday afternoon after a fire at a control tower in Jamaica, Queens, brought rail traffic to a standstill.

Some trains bound from Ronkonkoma, Babylon and Huntington at 3 p.m. EDT, after commuters at Pennsylvania Station in New York City were stranded around 11 a.m. It was unlikely full service would be restored in time for the evening rush. About 240,000 commuters use the LIRR daily, making the nation's largest commuter railroad.

A fire in a switching tower near the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica, Queens, station halted all eastbound and westbound service on 10 of the railroad's 11 branches Monday. Christophe Mazuel reclined on the floor of New York's Penn Station after his train to Southampton was canceled.

The fire disabled controls that allow trains to change tracks just east of Jamaica Station. The Port Washington branch that runs from northeastern Queens to Nassau County was the only line that was able to continue service.

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The fire, which is said to be electrical, reportedly began in the switching tower around 11:10 a.m. and was under control by noon. No one was injured.

Alternatives for commuters traveling home tonight were not made clear on the MTA's Web site.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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