Deadly New York Subway Fire

AP News
March 27, 2020 - 2:56 pm
In this image released by the MTA New York City Transit, New York City firefighters assemble at a subway station in New York, Friday, March 27, 2020.

(Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — A fire in a shopping cart on a New York City subway train led to the death of the conductor and injuries to several other people early Friday, and authorities are investigating it as a crime, officials said.

Fires were reported at three other stations along the same subway line, and authorities are investigating whether one person set all of them in an act of vandalism.

“We are investigating it as a criminal matter,” Deputy Chief Brian McGee said, adding that no arrests have been made.

The fire led to the death of the train's driver, possibly of smoke inhalation, who was helping passengers to safety, officials said. The death came the day after two of his fellow New York City Transit employees fell victim to the coronavirus.

Autopsy results for the driver are pending.

“As all of you know, this has already been a devastating week for New York City Transit," said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the agency that runs the city's buses and subways. “And this is another horrific moment for our family.”

A train had just pulled into the 110th Street station in Harlem, near the north end of Central Park, around 3 a.m. when a transit worker saw smoke and fire in one of the cars, said McGee, who joined Feinberg at a news conference at the scene.

The driver and another transit employee evacuated passengers, some of them homeless, from a train car where a smoldering shopping cart was discovered inside, officials said.

The driver's body was found on the tracks in front of the stopped train, they said.

The 36-year-old conductor was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead, police said. His name was not released.

Fires were also reported at around the same time at three nearby stations — 86th Street, 96th Street and 116th Street, McGee said.

“The most important thing that I need is for witnesses to come forward,” he said, urging New Yorkers to call a police tip line.

Nine other people were injured, Feinberg said.

The fatal fire occurred a day after two other New York City Transit employees died of COVID-19, according to their union.

Bus driver Oliver Cyrus, 61, and train conductor Peter Petrassi, 49, were killed by the virus Thursday, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said.