Significant metro fires 1970-1987
(Railway Gazette International, January 1989)

Montreal Dec 12 1971 A train collided with the end of the tunnel at Henri Bourassa metro station, followed by a short circuit and fire which spread to train-sets stationed nearby. 36 cars were destroyed, and the driver killed.
East Berlin Oct 4 1972 An EMU stabled at Alexanderplatz caught fire, damaging the station buildings and destroying four vehicles.
Stockholm 1972-78 Over this period seven fires broke out on board trains, resulting in destruction of the cars in each case. All the fires were thought to be arson.
Paris Mar 27 1973 An empty car in a Line 7 train was set on fire near Porte d'Italie by an arsonist igniting a seat. Despite rapid action by the fire services, the car was destroyed and two passengers at the station were killed by smoke.
Montreal Jan 23 1974 Faulty rubber tyres on a train caused a short circuit south of Rosemard station, starting a fire and leading to the destruction of nine vehicles and 300 m of cabling. Over 1 000 passengers had to be evacuated.
Moscow 1974 A fire broke out in a despatch room off an underground platform, producing intense smoke and heat. Over 150 people were evacuated from a train inadvertently stopped by station staff.
Boston Jul 2 1975 Broken overhead wires in the light-rail tunnel near Kenmore Square station ignited the front of a car during the morning peak. Over 400 people were evacuated, and 34 were affected by smoke.
Lisboa May 25 1976 A traction failure led to a fire on a train; passengers were evacuated at a station, but four cars were destroyed.
Toronto Oct 15 1976 An arsonist started a fire in a train at Christie Street station, resulting in the destruction of four vehicles.
Paris Mar 9 1977 A fire broke out in a false ceiling in a passageway at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile station on RER Line A, filling the station with smoke from burning cables. Passengers were evacuated without panic.
Köln Oct 24 1978 A discarded cigarette set fire to a light rail car in the pre-metro tunnel at Hansaring station, and eight passengers were evacuated. Because of the smoke only firemen with breathing equipment could enter.
San Francisco Jan 17 1979 A current collector fault on a Bart train passing through the trans-Bay tunnel caused a short circuit and fire on the following train. Lack of communication between driver and control centre, poor co-ordination and errors of judgement hampered rescue of the passengers. One person died, and 56 were affected by smoke.
Paris Mar 25 1979 A short circuit caused by a foreign body on the line at Reuilly-Diderot station on Line 1 started a fire on a passenger train, destroying one vehicle. Thick smoke hampered rescue operations, affecting 26 people.
Philadelphia Sep 6 1979 A transformer fire and explosion in a train carrying 1 100 people at Septa's Erie Street station. The train's doors failed to open, causing panic. 148 passengers were injured in the crush as people left through the windows.
New York Sep 8 1979 A discarded cigarette ignited oil to start a fire at Grand Central Terminal on the Lennox Avenue line, creating dense smoke. Two cars of 12 stabled nearby were burnt out. Poor communication between train crews and controllers and between firemen and managers delayed evacuation of 100 people, resulting in four being injured.
Hamburg Apr 8 1980 A fire was deliberately started in a seat near the front of a train, and spread rapidly down the train. Two vehicles were destroyed, and four passengers were affected by smoke.
London Jun 21 1980 A discarded cigarette is believed to have started a fire in a cross-passage between the Northern Line running tunnels at Goodge Street. Poisonous smoke given off by burning cables caused one fatality.
New York 1980-81 Between June 1980 and July 1981, eight fires on the New York Subway necessitated evacuation of passengers. A total of 50 people were hospitalised. Several of the fires were started by electrical faults in under floor control equipment.
Moscow June 1981 An electrical fault caused a fire on a train at Oktyabrskaya station, and two cars were engulfed before the fire brigade arrived. Heat and smoke made the firefighting difficult. Over 2 000 passengers were evacuated from various trains by firemen in breathing apparatus. Seven people were reported to have died.
Bonn Sep 11 1981 A technical fault caused a fire on a light rail car in the running tunnel near Ramersdorf station. The fire was extinguished within 25 min, with no passengers injured; the car was destroyed.
New York Mar 16 1982 A fault in under-floor control gear started a train fire in the running tunnel near Christopher Street. Rapid spread of smoke led to the evacuation of some 400 passengers; 86 of them were injured, and one vehicle was destroyed.
New York Jun 2 1982 A PATH train stabled near Exchange Place station caught fire, and the fire service took 6 h to bring it under control. Four cars were destroyed, and several people were affected by smoke.
London Aug 11 1982 A short circuit on a Piccadilly line train in a tunnel between Wood Green and Bounds Green caused a fire which destroyed one vehicle. Over 50 passengers were evacuated along the tunnel; 15 of them were affected by smoke.
München Sep 5 1983 An electrical fault caused a train fire; after discharging passengers at HW the driver continued to a stabling siding where firemen extinguished the blaze. Two vehicles were destroyed, and seven passengers affected by smoke.
Hamburg Sep 30 1984 A fire started in a seat on a three-car train late at night. The train was stopped and evacuated at Landungsbrucken station, where the fire spread to cables. Two cars were destroyed, and one passenger was affected by smoke.
London Nov 23 1984 A fire broke out in late evening in a material store on the Victoria line platform at Oxford Circus, giving off dense smoke affecting many people. The blaze took 3 h to extinguish, and caused considerable damage to the station.
Paris Apr 12 1985 Rubbish at Barbès-Rochechouart station caught fire, igniting nearby cables and giving off toxic fumes. Five passengers and an official were affected. Passengers were evacuated from several trains standing in the tunnels.
Brussels Jun 1987 Fire broke out in a cafeteria off the concourse of an underground station, leading to evacuation.
Moscow 1987 A burning train stopped in a tunnel to evacuate passengers. Inaccessibility made fire fighting difficult, and the fire reached major proportions before firemen arrived. Tunnel draughts caused problems from smoke and gases.
London Nov 18 1987 Escalator fire spread into the booking hall at Kings Cross, killing 31 passengers.

Thanks to: Terje Andersen

 

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This page was last updated on June 28, 2001