Chaotic evacuation after blast & heavy smoke in Washington, DC metro station
Washington DC’s Tenleytown and Friendship Heights Metro stations were evacuated after reports that an explosion in a mechanical room had caused a fire and heavy smoke. Witnesses describe a chaos and poor communications by metro staff.
READ MORE: 154 people stuck on train in underwater tunnel to DC
People reported hearing blasts and seeing flames and smoke underground.
Social media messages described the panic on a smoke-filled Red Line train.
10 min in & no info as to why we are stopped, why no power or what is happening - people are scared @unsuckdcmetropic.twitter.com/ix4di9D4Jo— Michael Horecki (@MHorecki) April 23, 2016
@wmata getting set to remove train & send to 'yard' - @dcfireems#Tenleytown station https://t.co/5GvGXiwo4rpic.twitter.com/ZQowxmyrvm— RT America (@RT_America) April 24, 2016
DC Fire and EMS have tweeted out that there had been no casualties, but there is still smoke between the Friendship Heights & Tenleytown/AU stations.
Going somewhere NE from Metro Center on #RedLine? Think again @email@example.com/N5a8LfEdTl— Michael Horecki (@MHorecki) March 29, 2016
The incident was caused by “trouble inside a mechanical room,” DC Fire and EMS reported on its Twitter account.
No injuries /transports - getting ready to hand things over to @wmata - still some smoke issues between Friendship Heights & Tenleytown/AU.— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) April 24, 2016
According to the emergency response team, the heavy smoke is concentrated around an insulator that caught on fire at the platform.
@chuckatnpr On same train closest 2 smoke. Terrifying w/ blsts + lt + smoke. Thkful 4 firefightrs kpng calm. Crazy had 2 pay- so happy ovr!— Diana Russell (@russresearcher) April 24, 2016
RT America producer Shefali Kapadia got stuck at the Bethesda metro station because of the fire. She reported that crowds of people were rushing from the metro and across the street, trying to get to other means of transport, describing the situation as “unsafe all around.”
Kapadia tweeted that she was told “what do u expect? the system ain’t perfect!” by a DC metro employee.
Stuck at Bethesda #metro bc of fire at friendship. #wmata employee response: "what do u expect? the system ain't perfect!" @unsuckdcmetro— Shefali Kapadia (@skapadiaDC) April 24, 2016
Images taken on the outside of the station showed dozens of responding emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Witnesses spotted a stretcher being carried out.
8 fire trucks outside Tenley #metro. Ambulances too. Ppl evacuated saying explosion and fire. #wmata#dc— Travis Van Horn (@TravisVanHorn) April 23, 2016
#WMATA#dcpic.twitter.com/9q6wAGTj8R— Travis Van Horn (@TravisVanHorn) April 24, 2016
Local authorities blocked off the area between Albemarle Street and Wisconsin Avenue.
Red Line: Train service is suspended btwn Van Ness & Medical Center due to fire dept activity at Friendship Heights. Bus service available.— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 23, 2016
Outside #tenleytown#wmata station @MartinDiCaro@Metrorailinfopic.twitter.com/d9vad4trNh— Christy Lewis (@Cavalewis) April 24, 2016
Most people that were being evacuated complained of the “incompetence” of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), stating that communications had been horrible.
Just stuck on a smoke-filled Red Line train. Not sure what was more terrifying 1)panicking riders or 2) wmata incompetence. #metrosucks— Chuck Holmes (@chuckatnpr) April 23, 2016
@DCMetroMess@chuckatnpr I was on the train too. Definitely 2. Communication was horrible and made everything worse.— Kimberly Johnson (@kmjohnson06) April 24, 2016
@WMATA nightmare. Lost shoe "running to back" - thanks for the direction. pic.twitter.com/x0PBDTcx81— Sarah Alaoui (@musingsdiffused) April 24, 2016
Bus shuttle service was provided to those evacuated, however people have complained of it being overcrowded.
It's like Hunger Games trying to get on a shuttle #wmatapic.twitter.com/IdguajVlMa— DCHomos (@DCHomos) April 24, 2016
Rail Transit OPS Group said that Shady Grove Train 107 was reversed back to Tenlytown-AU after reporting smoke inside its cars.
The group said three issues could be responsible: “arcing insulator causing smoke, train lost a collector shoe, and a leaking air compressor.”
T-107 lost "all doors closed" during insulator incident; likely caused by pax pulling EDR. Train moved slowly... 1/x https://t.co/bY5GRh1j5c— Rail Transit OPS (@RailTransitOPS) April 24, 2016
Friendship Heights station was evacuated due to heavy smoke, according to the Rail Transit OPS Group’s Twitter account.
The incident happened on the Red Line, which is the oldest and busiest running under downtown Washington.
DC-area residents are not new to metro mayhem.
Many have experienced being stuck underground and resorted to social media to vent their vexation.
Just last week, 154 passengers were trapped underground after a train lost power in an underwater tunnel outside of Rosslyn Station.
BREAKING: DC Metro to shut down Wednesday for emergency safety inspectionhttps://t.co/bAjc4Dyz3z— RT America (@RT_America) March 15, 2016
Just a month prior, the entire Washington, DC Metrorail had to be shut down for 29 hours for an emergency inspection of electric cables in response to a fire that caused massive disruptions throughout the system.
In addition, a woman died in the DC metro a year ago after smoke filled a subway car near the L’Enfant Plaza metro station.