A two alarm fire deep in a manhole at Dekalb Station caused nightmarish commutes for thousands of New Yorkers headed to and from Brooklyn during last night's rush hour. The fire started around 4 p.m. in a cable room, hundreds of feet down a manhole, and shut down five subway lines for several hours. “It sent smoke billowing through the tunnel," an MTA spokesman told reporters. "We had to shut down service on the B and D lines so that people wouldn’t be breathing that smoke going through there and so firefighters could get in and access it." Service was also disrupted on the N and R trains, which also deleteriously impacted service on the F, M, and Q.

The fire was under control by 6:15 p.m., but service did not resume immediately. "After the fire is out, then you have to air out the location,” a fire official told City Room. “It will be a little while.” One unfortunate Gothamist commenter reports:

Atlantic Ave. was packed with what seemed like thousands of people trying to get down to the QNR platform. All train announcements told us trains were running at Atlantic so everyone and their mother worked to get there. They held us at the stairs to the platform for about 15 minutes and then finally announced the there was one R train coming.....but nothing else. It took me over 15 minutes to shove my way BACK to the entrance to the 2/3. What a swell commute!

Here's a short video of the crowds squeezing through the Atlantic Avenue station:

Crowded Subway at Atlantic Avenue August 14 2012 from Gothamist on Vimeo.

Service was mostly resumed by 7:30 p.m., and there were no injuries, unless you count the damage to straphangers' already bruised and battered souls: