What was believed to be a fire, caused an evacuation of a major part of the D.C. Metro Monday afternoon. According to authorities the metro station L’Enfant Plaza was filled with smoke Monday just before 3:30, causing an evacuation of all people in that station. The smoke was so thick that the station was closed down.
The Washington Metropolitan Travel Authority released information in the afternoon that reflected statements made by authorities earlier, that the D.C. Metro had been completely evacuated, leaving one dead and many injured, due to a fire. However, according to authorities, though there was thick smoke, firefighters did not immediately find a fire. This began an investigation into the official cause of the smoke. As of the afternoon officials were still searching for the cause of the smoke, as no source had been found.
The station was evacuated of all people. Trains that were suppose to board in the area were suspended and trains that passed through were not allowed to stop. Several lines of the Green and Yellow line were the ones suspended and lines from the Blue, Orange and Silver lines were the ones passing through. No harm came to any passengers on the trains passing through. However, according to sources, one person is dead and many are injured due to the low visibility in the station during evacuation. Trauma stations were set up outside by emergency personnel, as D.C. Fire and EMS posted on social media as injuries occurred. According to their Tweets, one person suffered serious injuries (and eventually death) and five people had minor injuries and were transported to nearby hospitals. Later, it was reported that over 84 of the 200 people evacuated were taken to hospitals, with two of those being in critical condition.
The L’Enfant Plaza part of D.C. Metro also hosts many businesses in outside offices. These businesses were also evacuated and shut down for the day. One of the businesses hosted there is a U.S. Postal Service. Though the investigation into the cause of the smoke at D.C. Metro continues, business is expected to resume as usual, soon.
Victims of the incident are making statements that reflect a disheartening experience during evacuation. Statements made by many say that there was no official evacuation plan for an incident like this and that the whole evacuation was badly managed and unorganized. One victim stated that she was very disturbed that she was not given instructions for how to evacuate and any indication of why the evacuation was occurring. Another witness stated that he saw the smoke coming into the train station and someone just started yelling “get out.” This is believed to be the reason why many were injured. The woman who died was reportedly stuck on a disabled train car that was initially heading to Virginia.
Though the situation has been contained it is not yet resolved. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the smoke and the D.C. Metro station is still shut down. Passengers are being advised to seek alternate transportation methods. According to sources, shuttle buses are being provided for commuters as an option to get to certain locations.
By Crystal Boulware
Photo by Mr. Nixter – Flickr License