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NYC commuter nightmare continues after raging fire

NEW YORK -- New York City commuters were warned to expect long delays, "extremely crowded conditions" and limited service Wednesday morning in the aftermath of a raging fire that broke out beneath elevated train tracks in the city.

The blaze ignited Tuesday evening at a garden center business underneath Metro-North tracks in East Harlem, halting commuter train service and stranding thousands of commuters.

Metro-North said service into and out of Grand Central Terminal was restored on a limited basis early Wednesday and that a Saturday schedule was in effect.

In a statement, the railroad said crews continued to make repairs after working throughout the night.

"Crews inspected all elements, including the supports, track, power and signal, and ran test trains to ensure safety," the carrier said.

But Metro-North added that speeds would be cut in half, from 60 mph to 30 mph.

"Customers should expect delays and extremely crowded conditions. Customers are encouraged to work from home if at all possible or find alternate travel plans," the railroad said.

Photos showed hundreds of commuters stranded at Grand Central Tuesday evening.

More than 150 firefighters responded to the blaze, which officials said also involved construction debris and several trailers and vehicles and may have blown off bolts from the tracks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the scene and detailed the damage, CBS New York reported.

"The fire was so hot that they could hear the rivets, the bolts popping," Cuomo said.

Buildings on both sides of the street were evacuated.

"I opened my window to climb down on my fire escape, and the smoke started getting more heavier," Antone Rosas told the station.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury when he slipped, but no civilians were hurt.

Fire officials said crews worked hard to control the fire, which remained under investigation.

"They got in there, they contained the fire to this one area," said James Leonard, chief of department for the Fire Department of New York. "Hopefully, we contained the damage, and we can get the people back on the railroad."

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