Metro Service Restored After Fire Closes 2 Stations

Metrorail service on the Blue and Orange lines returned to normal Friday morning. But some riders are questioning their safety after a small fire closed two stations Thursday.

Service was restored between Eastern Market and L'Enfant Plaza just in time for the system's 5 a.m. opening Friday. A debris fire shut down that section of track during Thursday's evening commute, leaving many commuters scrambling for an alternative. 

Metro says new third-rail equipment was installed at the Federal Center SW station during the overnight hours. 

The debris fire, which closed the Capitol South and Federal Center SW stations, was the second smoke incident at the Federal Center SW station Thursday. 

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld opted to close the stations after he saw stunning video of the fire and explosion at the station Thursday morning, he said live on News4.

"When I saw that, I said, 'I'm shutting it down, we're going to get in there and get those [porcelain insulators] out of there,'" he said about the video he said he saw late Thursday afternoon.

Commuter Mary McPherson saw the same video. 

"It's scary," McPherson said. "Personally, I pray constantly that I'm safe and others are safe getting to and from work."

The fire about 4:30 p.m. in the Federal Center station was sparked by debris on the tracks, Wiedefeld said. The fire before 8 a.m. was sparked by a porcelain insulator, the Metro boss said. The porcelain parts will be replaced with fiberglass parts he said were safer. 

"We have to attack it aggressively because we just can't go through this day in, day out," Wiedefeld said. 

Video of the first fire Thursday in the Federal Center station shows sparks and then a huge explosion on the tracks. 

No one was hurt by either fire, officials said.

A Metro passenger died and dozens of others were hurt when smoke filled a Metro train in January 2015. In an unprecedented move, Metro officials shut down the entire system for a whole day in March because of a track fire that month. 

Metro sent shuttle buses to affected stations. Commuters packed into trains, buses and open stations. 

The Silver Line operated between the Wiehle-Reston and Ballston stations. Metro advised riders to use the Orange Line to travel between D.C. and Virginia.

Riders were advised to expect delays all along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

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What's Next

The Metro general manager said trains will run as normal during Friday morning rush hour.

"We're going to get this through the night," he said.

Wiedefeld plans to make an announcement Friday about a Metro repair plan that could leave some trains single-tracking for as long as a month, and completely shut down portions of train lines.

"I'm going to lay out for people from a customer perspective where they get on the system and what the impact will be on them," he said Thursday evening. 

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