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Finally home 
16th-Sep-2009 09:50 pm
Local: I-93 South to Quincy
Thanks to plumtreeblossom for that previous post!

I’m finally home. Copied and pasted from an IM session, here’s the short version of my evening:
Wow, that was an adventure!
I was caught up in the chaos downtown. Heard the announcement that Park Street was offline and they were bussing both directions, so I got out at Boylston (where there were a few emergency vehicles), found a restaurant, had a very leisurely dinner, and walked to Downtown Crossing hoping I could catch the Red Line there.
But Downtown Crossing was crawling with fire trucks and ambulances too, and they were sending people back to Park Street to wait for busses, which still hadn't started running. (So everybody who *didn't* stop to have dinner had been waiting all that time.)
When a bus eventually picked us up, the driver assented to the overwhelming demand of the crowd to go to JFK/UMass -- he had no instructions about where to go -- but he didn't know how to get there, so he recruited a volunteer navigator.
And traffic was very very slow on I-93, probably mostly because of the T being down, but also partly because the highway department happened to choose today to trim the branches of the trees down the median.

(According to announcements in the bus, no Red Line trains were running between Harvard and JFK/UMass, and there was some Orange Line service shut down too.)

I didn’t see any evidence of injury, but then by the time I arrived on the scene it had been nearly an hour since the original evacuation of the stations.

Not quite what I planned for the evening, but I’m home now and I have a kitty who’s glad I’m home.
17th-Sep-2009 02:10 am (UTC)
It's never fun to have to wait around in a crowd of anxious people, but it sounds like you handled it better than most. I'm impressed -- though not surprised! -- that your ability to be flexible and to calmly go out to dinner gave you a much better experience than most of the other stuck folks.
17th-Sep-2009 03:15 am (UTC)
I was there for this incident. It was a spark fire in the tunnel between Downtown Crossing and South Station.

I was at South Station, waiting for my train, when I heard a loud cracking sound, which turned out to be some extremely large sparks down the tunnel - it almost looked like lightening. People immediately ran for the stairs, yelling "get out! get out!" One woman even left her shoes. (They were clogs, and I assume she couldn't run as fast in them.) However, the sparking quickly subsided and we went back to the platform.

That is when the smoke started pouring in from the tunnel. It was very thick - opaque thick. Once it came of the tunnel I could not see the outline of the tunnel entrance, and I knew where to look. It didn't smell like smoke, though, more like burnt rubber or Catholic incense. T officials didn't actually move people out off of the platforms until ~20 minutes after the smoke rolled in. After that, I just waited in the cold for a bus. (I did not have the option of going out to dinner, alas.)

As to why Downtown Crossing and the orange line also had issues: I overheard some firemen and T officials talking about this and my understanding (really, this should not be mistaken for fact) is that the sparks traveled down the tunnel (presumably on the 3rd rail) from Downtown Crossing to South Station. Anything at Downtown Crossing would have to affect the orange line.
17th-Sep-2009 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, and no one was injured, at least not at South Station.
17th-Sep-2009 07:24 am (UTC)
According to Boston.com, there were two separate fires, one at South Station and one at Chinatown. Downtown Crossing was affected because the smoke from those two fires spread to there.
17th-Sep-2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Wow. That is a lot worse than I'd understood. I wonder if the two fires were just a coincidence, or due to a larger rail problem.
17th-Sep-2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
According to boston.com, this is what they think now:

Cable failure apparently caused by old wiring sparked a fire in a Red Line tunnel at South Station around 6:35 p.m., according to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

At about the same time, T officials suspect that a customer threw debris onto the third rail of an Orange Line track in the tunnel at the Chinatown station, sparking a second fire.

17th-Sep-2009 11:09 am (UTC)
I'm really surprised that the fire at South Station seems to have been sparked by garbage on the tracks - I'd have thought that sort of thing would happen all the time. And by the poor handling of the situation (do they not think about how to handle two attacks problems at once at all?). And by the very odd downplaying of the events in the news. You'd think it would be a major story with how many people were affected.
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