Photo by John Turk

Quick thinking saved the day when brakes on the Gold Line train froze and overheated at the Mission Meridian landing platform in South Pasadena.

First there was the smell. Then, the metal grinding on metal and then the smoke. It was the smoke that brought the train to a screeching and jolting halt. The conductor, who only identified himself as Lorenzo, jumped out and onto the landing area. He ran to the front of the train and discovered a massive amount of smoke bellowing out from underneath the front axle. Then he noticed something he wished he hadn’t: A small fire was burning underneath the train. He quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher and laid down a suppressive line of retardant and it immediately worked.

Lorenzo
Photo by John Turk

The conductor hopped off the tracks, notified headquarters about the issue and waited for instructions.

In the meantime, officials had been dispatched to what was believed to be a vegetation fire, according to authorities.

Fire officials first thought it was a vegetation blaze but when they arrived, soon discovered it was a train issue and  was all taken care of.

Fire officials  made sure the blaze was out, and double checked to make sure there were not any hot spots.

A nearby business owner, John Turk, who owns Mission Antiques on Mission Street, thought the vegetation was on fire as well and nerves were on high alert momentarily.

Photo by John Turk

“It did get pretty scary,” Turk said. “It was pretty scary because we didn’t know what was going on,” said Turk, whose business is next to the Gold Line stop. “There was a lot of smoke.”

The train sat on the tracks for about an hour before a technician arrived from headquarters, who made sure the brakes were cooled enough for the train to move. When the brakes cooled enough, officials slowly moved it in reverse to headquarters where the brake issue was resolved.

Three Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy sheriffs arrived to ensure no one was injured and to coordinate the situation. One track was taken out of service for about two hours until the situation was under control, authorities said.

There was no report of injuries during the incident.

Metro train mechanics ensure the brakes have cooled enough to move it down the track. They moved the train in reverse back to headquarters where they could repair the problem. The front of the train is where the small fire erupted after the brakes overheated. Photo by Steve Whitmore
Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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