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'It Was Panic': Fire Shuts Down Service On Orange Line

MEDFORD (CBS) - A fire on the Orange Line in Medford created chaos for commuters Friday afternoon. Service on the entire Orange Line was suspended due to a fire in the "track area" between Wellington and Malden Center stations.

Passengers yelled to the conductor to stop the train when they saw smoke coming up from the tracks at about 3:10 p.m.

Passengers were evacuated onto the tracks, third rail power was deactivated and that's when all Orange Line service stopped.

Orange Line
Fire on Orange Line train in Malden (WBZ-TV)

"Everyone was like yelling and screaming, it was crazy," said John McGinnis, who walked through a tunnel with other passengers evacuated from the train. "It was completely in a tunnel so we had to walk I don't know a quarter mile along third rail train tracks. It was kind of scary because we were trapped."

Fletcher Fuentes helped passengers get out when they ran from the smoke and the doors to the train were locked.

"It was panic because we couldn't get the doors open," Fuentes said. "And then all of a sudden we got the doors open and everybody started rushing through the doors and me and a couple other people were telling them, 'calm down, calm down, we'll get out, we'll get out.'"

Video from SkyEye showed firefighters on the tracks extinguishing the fire underneath the train.

Service was replaced by bus shuttles between Oak Grove and Wellington stations for about three hours. Orange Line service fully resumed at about 7:00 p.m.

Some riders' commutes were delayed an hour. "I actually missed my train to New York," said Christopher Vectaro of Malden. "I've never had this problem before, this is absurd."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted, "From fires to derailments, what we don't need is another example of the @MBTA disrupting the commutes of residents in Boston and beyond. What we do need is critical investment now and improved public transportation for all."

The affected train was taken to Wellington Yard where it will undergo an inspection. Damage to the third rail was found and repairs were made.

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