BART Evacuations took place Wednesday morning after brake problems sent smoke billowing through a train. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) spokesman Jim Allison told reporters that the train had gotten stuck between the Orinda and Rockridge stations at about 8:30 am “after a parking brake apparently deployed accidentally.”
Reuters reported that around 600 to 700 passengers were evacuated from the train at a station in Oakland, “which was temporarily closed so firefighters could provide medical care for those who felt ill.” The report continued on to quote the Oakland Fire Department, who posted on Twitter that as many as 15 passengers complained of smoke inhalation. There are conflicting reports as to how many people were hospitalized, but the numbers range from nine to 11.
According to San Jose Mercury News, the parking brake was accidentally deployed around 8:22 am. The report continued on to quote Allison as saying the following, “A technician eventually released the brake to get the train running on its own, and it finally reached the Rockridge station at 9:34 am.”
Passengers on the train weren’t evacuated until the BART train finally arrived at the Rockridge platform after an hour inside the tunnel. ABC News stated that passengers complained that they were unable to open the train’s doors to help ventilate or even evacuate the cars. BART did tell reporters that they were unable to as part of a standard safety procedure. Oakland Fire Chief Melinda Drayton explained when he said the following to reporters:
“When the ventilation system starts in the tunnel, it’s an automatic closure of the doors and that is for the safety of the personnel on the train as well as the firefighters responding.”
While there was a lot of confusion during the first hour or so of the ordeal, passengers said that communication eventually opened up, which helped to ease some concerns. Of those passengers that were hospitalized, none sustained any life-threatening injuries.