Rockville Centre Tanker Fire


Matt Lazaro

Within the past two weeks there has been 2 tanker crashes in Nassau County. The first occurred in Rockville Centre on February 16, where the truck flipped and exploded after being cut off. And the second occurred in Merrick on February 28 where a trucker swerved to avoid hitting a parked car and smashed into a telephone pole.

There was fire everywhere, in the street, the tanker, the two buildings. And there was fire coming out of seven or eight manhole covers…It’s one of the worst things I’ve seen in my 47-year career

— Rockville Centre Fire Chief James Avondet

The trucker in Rockville Centre was heading eastbound on Sunrise Highway at approximately 1:15 am when the accident occurred. He was cut off and swerved to avoid hitting the car. The semi hit a former Lazy Boy and flipped, sliding into a liquor store. The truck spilled approximately 13,000 gallons of gasoline onto the street and ignited surrounding buildings. The trucker was transported to Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside with minimal injuries.  The former Lazy Boy storefront was severely damaged with it having to be bulldozed after the second floor of the building collapsed.

Approximately 9200 gallons of water spilled into the Mill river and the sewer system unfortunately. State Environmental Officials say that only a small area of the river was affected, and the fuel was being contained with booms and the coast guard was helping to map the spill. Several dead animals including waterfowl, fish, and red-eared sliders were found in the affected area. According to Fire Marshall Michael Uttaro, there shouldn’t be any long lasting effects on the environment and there is no threat to citizens. Fire Chief James Avondet said that the water was safe to drink although it “might be a little yellow in color”.