SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A nightmare commute unfolded for San Francisco BART passengers early Tuesday as a smoldering debris on the tracks shut down the transit system’s 24th Street station for more than an hour and a Mylar balloon hit the third rail at the Civic Center, knocking the station out of service.
BART spokesman Jim Allison said the balloon floated down and hit the rail, then exploded and caused smoke in the station at around 7:30 a.m.
BART officials closed the Civic Center station with some trains turning around back toward the East Bay and others running through the station without stopping.
Allison said were crews inspecting the tracks. Service had partially recovered by 8 a.m.
Earlier Tuesday, debris smoldering on the BART tracks shut down the transit system’s 24th Street station, bringing trains to a near halt in San Francisco for nearly an hour and half,
BART officials sent out an alert that trains were not stopping at the 24th St. station in both directions at around 5:30 am. A short time later, San Francisco Fire declared a working blaze at the station and crews responded.
San Francisco fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter said the fire might have been sparked by an accumulation of debris or garbage on a railroad tie, since it started “inside” the track.
Baxter said BART uses a protective coating on the tie, but when a large amount of trash accumulates on the tie, it can spark a fire, which is a rare occurrence.
San Francisco police also responded for traffic control in the busy area of the Mission District.
BART officials were forced to offer limited service while the fire was extinguished and engineers checked the track for damage. Service through the 24th St. station resumed around 7 a.m.
Officials said delays of 20-30 minutes would linger and impact the remaining of the morning commute.