Smoke Fills PATCO Cars, Passengers Evacuated

Passengers were evacuated after smoke was found on a PATCO subway heading to New Jersey from Philadelphia.

Officials say 50 passengers were on the six-car train heading eastbound when smoke started to fill two of the cars around 5:15 p.m.

"We began to smell smoke while the train was still moving," said Jody Aiello, one of the passengers. "The car began to fill up with smoke as we were going on the ramp to the bridge."

The train stopped at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge near 7th and Race Streets. According to PATCO spokesman Tim Ireland, a motor shorted out on the train, leading to the smoke. Passengers say the smoke began to fill the car and the lights went out.

"There was lots of smoke that you could see and smell," said Kaitlyn Delengowski. "Without communication it was a little frightening."

The passengers say they sat in the dark, waiting for word on what happened.

"Thank God we had our cell phones," said Andrew Ludewig, another passenger. "We actually found out what happened through NBC." 

Aiello says the conductor then began to inform them of the situation.

"The train conductor got on the speaker and said we are evacuating the train and need to move quickly but safely," she said. "That's pretty much the only information we had the entire time."

The passengers were slowly evacuated. They first removed two passengers who had medical issues. Passengers in the two cars where smoke was detected were then moved onto an eastbound train which departed from Franklin Square Station.

Not wanting to wait for the train, some passengers left and went into the station. The remaining passengers were eventually evacuated and no injuries were reported.

"It took about an hour of walking through each car in the dark before we finally got to the ladder and we climbed down off the train," Aiello said. "At that point, we were directed to walk through the tunnel where we were met by more firefighters and police officers with a ladder to climb up to the platform."

Aiello says the remaining passengers waited at Franklin Square as three trains passed before one stopped for them.

"People were cheering and happy to be safe and on our way home," she said.

The incident caused delays along the PATCO line. Normal service was restored however shortly before 8 p.m. PATCO officials also confirmed that another westbound train had a short in its motor Monday morning. Officials say the snow was the cause for both problems.

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