One woman died and dozens of other people were taken to hospital, where three are in a critical condition when smoke filled the upper level of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in southeast Washington on Monday afternoon.
A Yellow Line train, heading for Virginia, stopped in the tunnel south of the station at approximately 1520hrs. People were trapped inside the train as the tunnel filled with thick, black smoke.
Firefighters accessed the tunnel at one of the evacuation points at Ninth Street and Maine Avenue SE. A firefighter who sustained injuries was transported from that location by ambulance.
D.C. Fire and EMS confirmed that 84 patients were taken to hospitals with three in a critical but stable condition. More than 200 people were evaluated at the scene.
Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles reported, “There was a woman who was in distress on that train, and I’m sorry to say she’s passed away.”
The woman’s cause of death and identity remain unknown.
An exact cause of the smoke and fire is currently unknown and investigators said there was an electrical arcing involving the third rail and the power supply cables to that rail prior to the fire. There was water along the tracks near the accident scene, which would have helped facilitate smoke along the third rail.
Metro Transit Police are receiving assistance from the FBI in determining a cause, which is standard procedure for incidents in the capital region.