updated 1/25/2005 10:42:02 PM ET 2005-01-26T03:42:02

A subway line shut down by a tunnel fire that authorities believe was set by a homeless person should be running again within three to six months, not the five years previously feared, the New York City Transit agency said Tuesday.

The Sunday fire, which began in a shopping cart stuffed with clothing and wood, ignited overhead cables near the Chambers Street station in lower Manhattan. The blaze spread to a room of switching and signal equipment critical to operating the C line, said NYC Transit’s parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

No suspect in the fire had been arrested.

The C line, which carries some 110,000 daily riders in Manhattan and Brooklyn, was suspended indefinitely. The MTA also cut back service on the A line, which runs parallel to the C for part of its route, carrying some 470,000 passengers a day.

Before Tuesday’s announcement that service could be resumed within six months, NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter had said it could take “several millions of dollars and several years” to rebuild the equipment.

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