Fire at Guro Station delays trains
As the fire, which started in a restroom on the third floor of a building attached to the station, spread smoke across the building and into the station, hundreds of people were evacuated. No casualties have been reported.
The incident was first reported via the 119 emergency hot line at 9:57 a.m. by an employee of the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail), the operator of subway line No. 1 and the passenger rail trains that pass through the station.
The fire was put out at around 10:16 a.m. after 116 firefighters and 37 vehicles, including fire trucks and ambulances, were dispatched to the scene. In the meantime, the smoke from the fire spread through the building and the station’s platforms, where hundreds were evacuated.
The fire also damaged the distribution board located near the restroom, cutting out power at the station and downing its train signaling system.
Korail said it resumed the operation of passenger rail trains at 10:56 a.m. and subway trains to and from Incheon at 11:04 a.m. by using hand signals. It also added that the operation of subway trains between Guro Station and Anyang Station in Anyang, Gyeonggi, resumed at 12:06 p.m., after distribution board functioning was restored. Guro Station is on Line No. 1, where subway trains heading for Incheon and Anyang diverge.
But some passengers complained that the trains did not come into the station at the time announced by the operator.
“I came to the station because I heard that [Korail] resumed the operation of its trains, but I’m embarrassed because they are not letting us board the trains without giving specific instructions,” said Jo Eun-jin, 34, a passenger who got to the station at 11:30 a.m.
Actual operations restarted at about 12:12 p.m., keeping passengers waiting for nearly two hours after the fire was extinguished.
The power failure also hindered the station from giving proper instructions for passenger safety.
“We made an announcement that a fire broke out in the station, but the passengers could not hear it well because the power was cut,” said a subway station official. “So 15 station employees went down to the platform and evacuated passengers.”
Police and firefighters suspect the fire resulted from an electricity problem, such as a short circuit, and are working to figure out the exact cause.
Guro Station has suffered a string of incidents recently.
On April 14, more than 2,000 passengers on one subway train had to transfer to another train after it experienced a problem with its doors. Earlier that month, the power supply between Seoul Station and Guro Station went down, delaying 10 subway trains.
A railway malfunction in the station in November also resulted in a subway train blocking train traffic for about an hour.
BY KIM BONG-MOON AND CHAE SEUNG-GI [email@example.com]