Police car parked outside of the Tenleytown-AU station
Julia Mouketo/ҹֱ

Fire disrupts Red Line at the Tenleytown-AU Station

On Friday evening, the Red Line faced disruptions as the Tenleytown-AU metro station closed due to a reported fire incident, causing delays and inconveniences for commuters.

Around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, the Tenleytown-AU metro station was shut down, causing delays on the Red Line en route to Glenmont. The situation took an alarming turn as reports of smoke and a potential fire emerged.

The closure of the Tenleytown station caused significant disruptions for Red Line commuters heading to Glenmont. In the nearby Bethesda and Friendship Heights stations, metro card scanning systems were down, allowing passengers to pass through without paying.

The Tenleytown station shutdown lasted about one hour, forcing over fifty red-line riders traveling in the Glenmont direction to disembark at Friendship Heights and transfer to a shuttle service to Van Ness Station.

Open Metro Scanning Machine
Down metro scanning machines.                                 Julia Mouketo/ҹֱ
line for the shuttle between Friendship Heights and Van Ness
People in line for the shuttle between Friendship Heights and Van Ness.
Julia Mouketo/ҹֱ







When attempting to talk to the DC transit police on the scene, they said the station was closed for maintenance reasons.

However, Vito Maggiolo, the DC Fire & EMS Department’s Public Information Officer, confirmed that the firefighters came to Tenleytown Metro Station due to reports of smoke.

“The Fire & EMS responded because there was smoke in the tunnel. They found that there was an insulator issue. The Fire department has cleared the scene.” Maggiolo said.

On-call Public Information Officer for WMATA, Tierra Hill, said an arcing insulator issue caused the smoke. 

“The defective insulator was removed, and normal service was restored,” said Hill. 

According to a by the Federal Transportation Agency, electrical arcing happens when a strong electric current escapes from a power cable and runs along the surfaces of train trackswhich can be covered in dust, rust, dirt, and grime.

Arcing can be a problem because it can damage cables and tracks, create bursts of light, and even start fires. The smoke from arcing can be harmful to passengers, workers, and emergency responders because it might contain poisonous fumes.

However, this Friday’s incident is not a first for WMATA or the Red Line. The 2016 FTA report noted  70 arcing incidents between October 26, 2015, and October 21, 2016. Most incidents occurred on the red line, with a high concentration between the Medical Center and Van Ness stations.

Despite adopting safety measures, WMATA’s indicates 16 arcing insulator incidents, a higher number than in

While there were no injuries, the incident caused panic, confusion, and delays, highlighting the challenges of the district’s public transportation system. 

Julia Mouketo

Julia is a reporter for ҹֱ covering the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights area. She is a graduate student at American University. Prior to ҹֱ, she worked for The Roanoke Times and Cardinal News.

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