Fire, Smoke Cause Panic on Red Line

"We could actually see flames coming up from outside the train": Passenger

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCWashington
    Passengers were finally allowed off the Red Line train at Metro Center.

    A six-car Red Line train that was allegedly on fire has been removed after one of its cars lost a collector shoe, one of four that power trains via the third rail.

    Aside from a brief press release on normal service resuming on the Red Line, however, Metro did not elaborate on the explosion, fire and smoke that many passengers said were part of the incident.

    A rider on the train described how a loud thump underneath a train car annoyed people at first, but after a while, they started to see smoke and, as word spread, people started to panic.

    Witness Describes Metro Smoke Incident

    [DC] Witness Describes Metro Smoke Incident
    A witness describes a mechanical problem Tuesday on the Red Line.

    "The train got to Metro Center and we could actually see flames that were coming up ... from the underbelly of the train," passenger Alex George told NBCWashington. "We pushed the emergency call button... and people were asking to open the train doors, but the operator said they couldn't."

    Passengers were allowed off the train at Metro Center, where D.C. Fire and Emergency officials were standing by.

    Fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said the collector shoe, which is a rather large electrical component under the train, "apparently came off near the Gallery Place [station]."

    "Some people describe hearing an explosion. We think it was associated with an electrical arching," he said.

    When asked if the train operator's handling of the situation was correct, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said Metro will review its emergency procedures, adding, that they will certainly follow up on the incident.

    In the meantime, Metro is asking passengers to call them with suggestions so they can make the next ride a safer one. Metro's customer assistance number is 202-637-1328; it's open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.