WASHINGTON (WJLA/NewsChannel 8) – One woman died, two passengers were critically hurt and dozens more were injured after heavy smoke filled a Metro train and the tunnel at L’Enfant Plaza station, authorities said Monday evening.
Hundreds of people were evacuated about 3:30 p.m. as thick smoke filled the rail tunnel at one of the busiest Metro locations in the city. The source of the smoke remained unknown Monday night and the closed station was being ventilated. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was taking over the investigation into exactly what happened.
“We sprinted for our lives” as we left the station, one passenger told ABC7 News, adding that the smoke was so thick it was hard for passengers to find their way out of the tunnel.
Those evacuated included people waiting for trains in the underground station and passengers on a disabled train about 150 feet south of L’Enfant Plaza that had to be rescued by police and fiorefoghters.
Emergency medical workers evaluated dozens upon dozens of passengers following the evacuation at a makeshift triage center set up along the street. Those needing further medial attention were taken by ambulances and buses to hospitals in what the local firefighter’s union called a “mass casualty” event.
The woman who died was reportedly unresponsive with no pulse after CPR was performed on her at the scene. Her identity was not immediately released.
Metro officials said the two critical patients were being cared for at George Washington University Hospital. An estimated 60 others were treated for smoke inhalation: 40 at Howard University Hospital and 20 at Washington Hospital Center.
No trains stopped during the evening rush hour and into the night at the L’Enfant Plaza and it was unclear when service there might resume.
Rail service was suspended on the Green and Yellow lines between Gallery Place and Navy Yard/Pentagon as well as between Navy Yard/Pentagon and Mount Vernon Square. Shuttle buses were operating.
Orange, Silver and Blue line trains continued to operate; those lines were just bypassing L’Enfant Plaza altogether. Yellow Line riders traveling between Virginia and D.C. were encouraged to use the Blue Line as an alternate.