More Metro Stations Shut Down By Smoke

By Lena H. Sun and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Smoke poured into Metro subway tunnels again last night, a day after an unprecedented and unexplained series of such incidents, and baffled officials began to consider the possibility that the events were more than mere accidents.

"This is not normal," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said. "This is highly, highly irregular."

Asked whether he suspected terrorism, Catoe said no. But he added: "Could it be something else? Everything now is suspicious."

Asked whether he suspected sabotage, he said, "I don't know the answer to that question."

A spokesman for the D.C. fire department said the department was "very concerned" about the large number of incidents in a brief period and would try to assist Metro in determining whether they were more than accidental.

It was unclear what service would be provided this morning on a Blue and Yellow Line segment between the Pentagon and Braddock Road, which remained closed late last night. Travelers continued to board shuttle buses at the Pentagon City stop.

Yesterday's events, which came just after the height of the evening rush, as did Sunday's, halted train travel on part of the Green Line in the District and much of the Blue and Yellow lines in Alexandria and in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

At one point, a Metro spokeswoman said, seven trains lost power in the Blue and Yellow Line tunnels south of the Pentagon.

That was only one facet of an often chaotic situation that forced thousands of irritated and bewildered passengers to leave stopped trains to continue trips home that stretched for hours in some cases.

Officials provided some explanation for the shutdowns but could not provide a detailed basis for much of what happened.

"We're at a loss to identify the root cause of the problem," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

However, Darrell L. Darnell, the Homeland Security official with responsibility for the Washington area, said there was no indication of terrorist involvement.

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