Smoke Incidents Not Uncommon on Metro

woodley park metro station smoke
Jeff Gohringer -- @jgohringer

Smoke incidents are not uncommon in Metro tunnels, but they are much more alarming to many riders after a woman died during a smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza in January.

Here's what we know about Metro smoke incidents:

  • In 2014, there were 104 smoke incidents and/or fires reported on Metro tracks, up from 86 in 2013, according to the transit system's quarterly SAFE reports (see page 8 of this report.Metro blamed the jump on the harsh winter, which leads to mechanical delays and failures. 
  • Precipitation and water on the tracks can take a toll. Water can cause the electrical insulators to arc, sending up sparks that are capable of smoldering on nearby equipment. But there are other reasons for smoke on the tracks, including faulty train brakes.
  • Smoke turned deadly on a Metro train in January, when Virginia commuter Carol Glover died inside a train trapped on the Yellow Line near the L'Enfant Plaza Station. An investigation found that fans meant to clear smoke from the station actually pulled more smoke into the train, and Glover died of acute respiratory failure due to smoke exposure. Nearly 70 other people were taken to hospitals.
Contact Us