- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2007

An electrical fire in the undercarriage of a Metro subway car yesterday morning forced the evacuation of the Green Line train and the Waterfront-SEU station.

The incident occurred at about 10 a.m. after the train left the L’Enfant Plaza station, which is underground near the Mall, said agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. She said a Metro employee reported the first of two loud booms as the six-car train traveled through a tunnel toward the Waterfront station where the second boom was heard.

Fire and smoke were discovered underneath the last car. Flames did not penetrate the floor of the car, but smoke was seen rising from the carpet, Miss Farbstein said. No injuries were reported, and the station reopened about 2 hours later, agency officials said. The incident was not expected to affect train schedules or this morning’s commute.

The train operator decided to evacuate the cars after the first boom.

“As far as we can see, everybody acted pretty quickly,” Miss Farbstein said. “Everybody seems to have made the right decisions. The bottom line is everybody got out safely.”

The D.C. fire department extinguished the electrical fire, and Metro workers took the train to a maintenance facility to investigate the cause. The fire appears to have started in the motor of one of Metro’s newest rail cars, which had been put into service within the past few months. Miss Farbstein said she did not know the exact date that the car, manufactured by the Alstromcompany, went into service.

Metro safety inspectors were investigating “to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

The manager of the Southeast station said 30 to 70 passengers were there at the time.

Miss Farbstein said that there were no problems during the evacuation and that a shuttle bus was already at the station to provide service for another problem with an elevator.

“That was the good news,” she said.

The incident follows several other safety-related incidents that have prompted new General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. to retrain Metro workers and renew their commitment to safety.

On the evening of Feb. 14, two female pedestrians were struck and killed by a Metro bus at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street Northwest.

On Jan. 7, a Green Line train derailed near the Mount Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center station, injuring 20 passengers and prompting a massive emergency response. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating that incident.

In November 2006, two Metro track workers were struck and killed by an out-of-service train in Alexandria.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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