Fatal Metro Smoke: D.C. to Release Preliminary Report on Emergency Response

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said a preliminary report on the District's response to the recent deadly smoke incident on Metro will be released within the next 48 hours, she announced Thursday.

The report will come from D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services, which will review recorded radio traffic and personnel interviews, reported NBC4's Kristin Wright.

Questions have arisen over the timing of the city's emergency response.

Passengers on a smoke-filled Metro train were still asking when help would arrive 23 minutes after the smoke was first reported at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, D.C. officials said Thursday.

City Administrator Rashad Young released a preliminary timeline on Monday's fatal smoke incident, which killed one woman and sent nearly 70 other people to the hospital. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled 61-year-old Carol Glover's death accidental by acute respiratory failure from smoke exposure.

Thirteen emergency calls were initially placed either to 911 or to the Office of Unified Communications. Those calls sent Fire and EMS crews to three different locations, according to Young.

The timeline says the first call about smoke near the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station came from a construction site a half mile away at 3:18 p.m. The caller told the dispatcher that smoke was coming out of the Metro tunnel at 9th and Water Street SW.


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A call came in four minutes later reporting heavy smoke on the upper level of the L'Enfant Metro station. A rescue vehicle arrived at L'Enfant station at 3:31 p.m.

The timeline does not indicate when first responders entered the tunnel and reached the stranded passengers.

According to Young's report, a patient receiving CPR was transported to an area hospital at 4:25 p.m.

On Monday, the six-car subway train had just pulled out from the station when it ground to a halt and foul-smelling smoke began filling the tunnel and the cars.

NTSB investigator Michael Flanigon said the smoke started when something came into contact with the high-voltage third rail and caused an electrical arc.

Young released the preliminary timeline Thursday:

  • 3:14 - Metro Rail’s Unit 22 called to report a debris fire on the tracks at Gallery Place Station, upper and lower levels.
  • 3:19 - Engine 02 Unit Dispatched to 7th St NW/H St NW (Gallery Place Metro)
  • 3:18 - A caller from a construction site reported smoke coming out of the Metro tunnel at 9th and Water St SW
  • 3:22 - Metro Rail’s Unit 22 called to advise of heavy smoke at L’Enfant Plaza Metro upper level
  • 3:22 - Engine 02 Arrived at 7th St NW/H St NW (Gallery Place Metro)
  • 3:24 - Metro Transit Official called requesting medics and fire units at L’Enfant Plaza Station for smoke in the station and reported citizens in the station could barely breathe
  • 3:25 - FEMS units arrived at 9th St SW/Water St SW scene where there was an odor of smoke but no flames were seen
  • 3:27 - A caller at the entrance of L’Enfant station requested an ambulance
  • 3:28 - Metro box alarm was dispatched to 7th & D St SW; EMA is notified
  • 3:31 - Rescue 1 arrives (1st unit) at 7th and D St SW L’Enfant Station; MPD is dispatched
  • 3:32 - MPD unit 1D 1011 arrives
  • 3:32 - A caller at the entrance of L’Enfant station requested an ambulance
  • 3:33 - A caller on the yellow line, in the tunnel stated the train was filled with smoke
  • 3:33 - A caller said he was “at or on” the Pentagon train and was transferred to Arlington 911 Center. The OUC call taker remained on the line and updated CAD which reflected this call
  • 3:35 - Engine 02 Unit cleared Gallery Place Metro and dispatched to L’Enfant Plaza
  • 3:39 - A caller on the train advised that it was filling with smoke.
  • 3:42 - A caller from a street location of 7th and E Street SW reported his wife was having difficulty breathing after she exited L’Enfant Station
  • 3:42 - Repeat caller from 3:33 – made inquiry “if help is on the way” the caller provided the train number 3031. He was transferred to the Metro Transit Official who told him not to leave the train because the tracks were still live
  • 3:43 - A caller advised he was stuck on the train and it was filling with smoke
  • 3:44 - BFC advises that WMATA confirms that power is shut down; there is a train with people trapped
  • 3:45 - A male caller asked “if help is on the way because the train is filling with smoke”
  • 3:45 - A female caller asking if help is on the way because the train is filling with smoke
  • 3:46 - A second alarm dispatched
  • 4:09 - Battalion Chief 1 advises he is at Operations Command Center and there is a report of a patient having a seizure on the train; squad 1 advises 9th and D; and an adult female is undergoing CPR, requesting a medic
  • 4:12 - Medic 14 advises he is a block away from L’enfant plaza and will respond; Medic 6B responds that he is closer, medic 14 cancels the run
  • 4:17 - Medic 6B is given the corrected location on channel 0A12, 9th and D St SW
  • 4:19 - Command 2 directs all medical units on L’enfant Plaza to switch to 0A5 (tactical channel due to radio traffic)
  • 4:25 - Medic 27 transports patient to GW, CPR is still in progress

During a press conference the day after the deadly incident, Bowser said that the fire department responded to the scene in a timely manner, although passengers told media outlets that they had endured waits of more than half an hour.

"I of course will defer to the passengers who were on that train. We don't know what time the train actually went down...." Bowser said Tuesday.

"It would appear that based on the calls that we received, the locations we reported to, that our fire department responded in the time frames that are customary," she said Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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