During rush hour on Wednesday morning, D.C. Fire and EMS responded to a fire alarm at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Several fire trucks responded to the alarm around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, but Metro officials said there was no evidence of any smoke inside the station or in the surrounding areas. Even so, Metro restricted trains to a speed of 30 miles per hour across the Potomac River bridge and warned riders to expect Yellow Line delays in both directions.
Although normal service has since resumed, another Metro station was recently closed due to an actual fire. The incidents have raised some concerns among commuters about fire safety on Metro bus and rail lines.
After a fire near the Stadium-Armory Metro station last week, the station will be closed to commuters indefinitely. For now, trains are still passing through the station, but passengers will not be able to board or depart on the station platform for the next few months, if not longer.
Despite rumors and some misleading headlines, the fire did not occur inside the station itself. A transformer fire outside the station destroyed a nine-megawatt power substation that powered trains through the third rail. Although Metro is routing power from other nearby substations, the Stadium-Armory platform’s power system is so weak that the station will remain closed to commuters.
In the last few decades, advances in fire suppression technology have helped prevent death, injury, and property damage from structure fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is no record of a fire killing more than two people in a building completely outfitted with active sprinkler systems. All Metro stations feature fire extinguishers on platforms and inside rail cars, and all stations and tunnels are equipped with automated electronic fire protection systems. Metro also employs a chemical detection system as well.
So far, there’s no official word on when the Stadium-Armory station will re-open to trains and commuters. Metro officials said that it could take more than six months to repair the destroyed substation, but they haven’t released an official timeline for repairs.
For now, commuters are advised to find an alternate route.