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Fire At Harlem Sewage Treatment Plant Forces Officials To Take It Offline

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A fire at a sewage treatment plant in Harlem shut down the Henry Hudson Parkway Wednesday afternoon, snarling traffic on the West Side from lower Manhattan past the George Washington Bridge all afternoon and well past the normal rush hour. It took drivers over 90 minutes just to travel from the Holland Tunnel up to the GW Bridge after the roadway was re-opened.

An explosion and fire in the engine room of the plant, also known as the North River wastewater treatment plant, sent flames 30 feet into the air. It also forced an evacuation of about 1,000 people from Riverbank State Park above the plant.

Deputy Fire Chief Joe Woznica said the four-alarm blaze, which broke out around noon, was fed by diesel fuel and battled with foam.

"It's a large area. By the time [firefighters] were able to access the area where the main body of fire was, we're already expended and needed to be relieved," Woznica told 1010 WINS' Al Jones.

1010 WINS' Al Jones Reports From Harlem



"With the exception of the firefighters who were taken for heat exhaustion, everyone's accounted for with no injuries," DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway said.

Holloway said the plant -- one of 14 in New York City -- was taken offline, but customers shouldn't notice any problems.  Officials were working Wednesday night to get the plant back up and running.

Earlier, Holloway said there was no release of sewage into the Hudson River. However, Wednesday night, NY1 reported that untreated water was being dumped into the river.

Two firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion while battling the fire. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

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