One Dead, Dozens Hurt as Smoke Fills DC Subway

And early morning fire at Penn Station causes delays
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2015 9:05 PM CST
Updated Jan 13, 2015 7:23 AM CST
A firefighter attends to people on a bus to assess triage needs after people were evacuated from a smoke-filled Metro subway tunnel in Washington, DC, yesterday.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – One person died and at least 83 others were hospitalized after smoke filled a Washington, DC, subway station and tunnel during the afternoon rush hour yesterday. Hundreds of people were evacuated from L'Enfant Plaza station—one of the Metro network's busiest—and from a Yellow Line train that was stuck in a tunnel, the Washington Post reports. At least two of the injured are in critical condition, and officials say the name of the woman who died will not be released until next of kin have been notified. The NTSB's investigator in charge says the cause appears to have been an "arcing event" in which electricity jumped from the system's third rail, reports the New York Times. Water in the tunnel may have been a contributing factor, he says.

Passengers who were on the stuck train described scenes of panic as the smoke grew thicker before firefighters arrived to help them escape by walking through the tunnel back to the station. "We couldn't see anything. The visibility was poor," a passenger waiting to be taken to a hospital told NBC. "Everybody got as low as they possibly could to the ground, because that's where the best possibility for oxygen was." One firefighter is among the injured. Meanwhile:

  • The Hollywood Reporter picks up on a social media oops from Netflix series House of Cards. In a nod to a season 2 episode, it last night tweeted, "Consider the slate clean," alongside a photo of an empty DC subway station and a fake news headline reading "Train Traffic Tragedy."
  • An odd coincidence: New York City's Penn Station was forced to delay trains early today on the heels of a three-alarm fire that has been dubbed "suspicious." It occurred at a construction site near the Long Island Rail Road concourse's west end around 2:30am. NBC New York reports service was restored to normal three hours later.

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