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T service resumes following fire | TribLIVE.com
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T service resumes following fire

PTRFIRE080116
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Fire crews respond to a fire at the Steel Plaza T station, Downtown, on Sunday, July 31, 2016.

An electrical fire broke out in a subway tunnel Sunday afternoon, forcing the Port Authority of Allegheny County to halt T service between Downtown and the North Shore for several hours.

The three-alarm fire occurred in the tunnel between the First Avenue and Steel Plaza stations, Downtown. The fire did not involve any trains, and no injuries were reported, Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

The first reports of smoke in the tunnels came in about 12:30 p.m., prompting transit officials to shut down rail traffic between South Hills Junction and Allegheny Station.

The stoppage was an inconvenience for Roman Sullivan, 29, who walked to the Wood Street station Sunday afternoon to find it was closed.

Sullivan, who works Downtown but lives in Beechview, boarded a shuttle bus at the First Avenue station.

“I just got off work, and I’m trying to get home,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a rough day.”

Brandolph said officials believe the fire involved “infrastructure” such as overhead wires or a transformer. The blaze was extinguished about 2:45 p.m.

Fire crews ran hoses below ground from the Steel Plaza station to put out the fire, and used fans to clear heavy smoke from the tunnels. A cause has not been determined.

Some Downtown light rail tracks were closed Sunday morning for an inspection, but “it had nothing to do with the fire,” Brandolph said.

Alexa Brzezinski, 16, took the T from Mt. Lebanon to the North Side, where she took part in the popular OpenStreetsPGH event with several friends Sunday.

They brought along their bicycles and planned to take the train home after the event. But they couldn’t because of the stoppage.

“We’re still trying to figure out what to do,” Brzezinski said about 3:30 p.m. as she stood outside the Steel Plaza station with her friends — Aya Obeid, 16, Alyssa Hyland, 17, and Emma Glickert, 16.

The teenagers checked a transit app on their smartphones as they weighed whether to take a bus back to Mt. Lebanon.

Port Authority reopened rail traffic about 4 p.m. from South Hills Junction to the First Avenue Station. Service was restored between the Steel Plaza and Allegheny stations by 5:50 p.m.

Brandolph said he didn’t know how many passengers were impacted by the stoppage. On average, the Port Authority provides 7,500 rides each Sunday, he said.

Tony Raap and Elizabeth Behrman are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Raap at 412-320-7827 or [email protected]. Reach Behrman at 412-320-7886 or [email protected].

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