Metro Blames Harsh Winter for Increase in Fires

It's not your imagination, Metro riders, the transit agency is seeing an increase in the number of fire-related issues on the tracks. And Metro says weather is to blame.

According to Metro statistics presented at a recent safety meeting, there were 104 fire incidents on the tracks in 2014, compared to 86 in 2013. You can find the statistics on page 12 of this report from Metro.

So why the spike? "Harsher winter," Metro Chief Spokesperson Dan Stessel wrote in an email.

According to another report that looks at Metro's vital signs, extreme cold temperatures led to more mechanical delays and failures in 2014.

The start of 2015 doesn't appear to be treating the transit agency any more gently.

Speed restrictions are being put in place along the system because of fears of cracked rails -- and mechanical issues continue to plague aging Metro equipment.

Just this past weekend, Metro noted two mechanical issues with railcars, including one where the Woodley Park station filled with smoke because of malfunctioning brakes.

The report of increase fire incidents on the rails comes in the wake of the fatal L'Enfant Plaza Station episode where thick smoke filled a Metro tunnel and train, leading to a death and dozens of other injuries.

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