MARTA trains back to normal after fire causes evacuation

- MARTA trains were back up and running Thursday night after a fire on the tracks caused two stations to close. 

Black smoke filled a MARTA train near the North Avenue station, according to officials. MARTA tweeted out that an emergency situation is delaying the gold and red line service.

People using the transportation service were evacuated from their trains at the North Avenue and Midtown stations, according to MARTA officials.

Passengers said they pried open the doors of the train and walked through the tunnel to safety. 

“You know, it was filling up and then it kind of started getting kind dark in there. Many of the people were frightened and a couple of people started to panic and run,” Laura Thompson told FOX 5’s Nathalie Pozo. “And there were a couple of guys with me who calmed people down and we told people to 'Go low, get down to the ground from the smoke.' And then we told everyone ‘Don't panic.’ And then we told them 'the worst thing we could do is have a panic in here.’”

FOX 5's Chris Francis was on a MARTA train and said he heard two loud booms and saw smoke coming into the car of the train he was riding before it was evacuated.

“So, we were kind of were waiting to hear from the train crew to find out ‘what should we do? Should we get out and walk the track? Or what should we do?’” said Thompson. “We didn't know if it was a fire, what the nature of it was and we didn't know where it was: was it in the train or was it in the tunnel? So, we were afraid to into the tunnel at first because we kind of pulled the doors open a little bit and it seemed like maybe more smoke came into the car. So, everyone said ‘oh, no, let’s stay in the car, it's safer here.’”

Eventually, people did start to evacuate from the train into the tunnel.

“They thought about it and they said ‘I don't want to be trapped underground, I want to get away from where the fire is,’” said Thompson. “So, two teenagers were bold and they hit the release on the door and they plied the door open and they went heading down towards North Station away from Arts Center.”

Eventually, many more inside the train joined them.

“There was a lady panicking near me, and after I finally got her calm, she said ‘Let’s go out and walk.’ I said ‘Okay.’ Nobody went to the door, so I went to the door,” said Thompson.

MARTA officials believe the fire started on the third rail, which is where they have their high voltage equipment.

Officials do not believe the fire was a criminal act, but are still investigating the cause.

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