D.C. Metro Station Closed for Hours on Eve of Pope's Arrival | NBC4 Washington

D.C. Metro Station Closed for Hours on Eve of Pope's Arrival

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    News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss looks at Metro trouble on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines Monday, on the eve of the papal visit. (Published Monday, Sept. 21, 2015)

    A fire in a Metro power facility forced officials to close a Metro station on the eve of Pope Francis' arrival in Washington and delayed riders on three of the system's six train lines.

    Smoke poured out of an above-ground Metro substation near the Stadium-Armory Metro station about 7 a.m. and burned for hours. Officials closed the Metro station and suspended service between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue on the Orange Line and between Eastern Market and Benning Road on the Blue and Silver lines.

    Service was delayed on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines for most of Monday and finally eased up before the evening rush hour. The Stadium-Armory station had reopened by 4:50 p.m. 

    Metro spokesman Dan Stessel apologized to riders.

    "There are obviously thousands upon thousands of riders that had a very, very bad commute this morning -- our apologies to each and every one of them," he said.

    The Metro spokesman said officials are working to prepare for Pope Francis' visit and investigate the cause of the fire.

    "We never want to see this on any day, but we also are fully aware of what's happening this week and that put all the more pressure on our power folks and the personnel who will be coming in here to try to make this right."

    A fire broke out in a transformer at a traction power substation about 7 a.m. officials said. Fire equipment was cleared from the scene by 2:30 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief John Donnelly spoke about why it took hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze. 

    "This is very dangerous," he said. "The atmosphere down there is black, it's dark, you can't see, you're not 100 percent sure initially what's charged with electricity and what isn't." 

    Two other transformers at the substation appeared to be unaffected. The substation -- located in a parking lot at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium -- is owned by Metro, Transit Police said.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation.

    No one was injured and there was no smoke in Metro station or tunnels, authorities said.

    Metro reconfigured the power flow to feed from substations at the Deanwood and Potomac Avenue stations in order to restore service at Stadium-Armory.

    "Not that big a deal," said one rider. "Previous times that the Metro's had to shut down, they usually set up the shuttle buses pretty quickly."

    Not everyone agreed the day's transportation was running smoothly.

    "It's a lot, man," said another passenger, who had boarded a Metrobus. "We're riding from Southeast all the way back over to Georgetown."

    Metro is posting updates on @metrorailinfo.