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Mattress on Metro-North Tracks Triggers Train Fire and Evacuation, FD Says

By  Victoria Bekiempis and Heidi Patalano | July 4, 2013 1:24pm | Updated on July 4, 2013 2:51pm

Metro North Evacuation
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TREMONT — An errant mattress on the Metro-North tracks in The Bronx Thursday forced a train full of passengers to evacuate after their northbound train hit it and caught fire, according to officials.

There were two minor injuries reported after the fire broke out in the rear of the Metro-North train as it approached the Tremont Station at approximately 12:09 p.m. according to the FDNY and the MTA. The train, which left Grand Central at 11:48 a.m. on the Harlem line, was bound for Southeast Station in Brewster, N.Y., according to passengers.

It was not immediately clear how the mattress ended up on the tracks or how it caused the fire.

Passenger Malone Sheppard, 21, of Union Square, was in the last car when the fire started, said he "heard a lot of rumbling, like a banging against the underneath of the car."

 Service has been suspended on the Harlem and New Haven Metro-North Lines on Thursday July 4 2013 because of a fire, MTA officials say.
Metro-North Delay
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"We thought it was just granite or loose rocks and then the train came to a stop. We hung out for about a minute and then people started coming in from cars further up," said Sheppard.

"Someone mentioned that there was a fire. People didn't really go anywhere but then people started smelling it, then people just started opening doors and getting off the train."

Passengers, some of whom wore flip flops and others of whom carted cases of beer, walked along the gravel tracks up to the station, where they waited approximately an hour for a replacement train to continue on their journey, according to passengers.

Service on the the New Haven and Harlem lines was delayed from 30 to 60 minutes in both directions as a result, according to the MTA.

According to the Fire Department, it took 65 firefighters 30 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

Passengers also took to Twitter to announce their evacuation and snap photos of the delays.

"Smoke billowing from last car of #metronorth train at Tremont station - we have been safely evacuated," Tweeted @al_cho.

Some passengers' tweets were more lighthearted.

"Fireworks start early; our metro north train just caught on fire #ItsHot," Twitter user @shockalloca wrote.

"Happy fourth, metro north style!" tweeted @AdrianaRRizzo.