Smoking hazardous to your commute
Smoking is hazardous to your commute -- and everyone else's.
That's the word from Metro as the agency said it's likely a cigarette thrown down a ventilation shaft ignited debris, prompting the suspension of Red Line service at Gallery Place and Metro Center on Wednesday and delaying thousands of riders.
The shaft on G Street NW opens up on a public street in an area where people often wait outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, according to Metro. Crews discovered thousands of cigarette butts in the shaft after the fire, said Ken Sundberg, Metro's assistant chief safety officer. However, the material that ignited was leftover material from Metro work that should not have been in the shaft, items such as pieces of cable, plywood and old lighting fixtures, he said.
"It's not like we're a pig sty," Sundberg said.
The Red Line was essentially divided during the incident from about 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., but massive delays reverberated throughout the system as the tail end of the morning commute was thrown into chaos.
Metro initiated shuttle bus service but riders reported that some trains were so packed that they could not accommodate additional passengers as they serviced open Red Line stations.
Sundberg said Metro will begin searching the system for other areas where debris has been allowed to accumulate and could pose a hazard.
-- Ann Scott Tyson
Photograph courtesy Ben Kimmel
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