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Commuter rail passengers watch as flames erupt from locomotive; Keolis apologizes

A small fire occurred on a commuter rail train
Courtesy of Noah Wasserman and Zachary Taylor Hall

Passengers watched — and shot video with their phones — as flames erupted from the locomotive stack of an MBTA commuter rail train in Canton Thursday night.

Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the commuter rail system, said the flames were due to “a small, brief and contained fire in the engine” of the 831 train bound for Providence. The fire went out on its own when the crew shut down the engine, officials said, and passengers had to evacuate at Canton Junction and transfer to another train.

Zachary Taylor Hall was among the many passengers who witnessed the bright orange flames. He recorded what he saw and posted a video clip on Twitter. “Literal flames coming out of my #MBTA train,” he tweeted. “Can a single day go by without a catastrophic failure occurring?”


Noah Wasserman was also on the train when the fire started. “The fire started more towards the Route 128 stop and we could smell the fumes,” he said. “The train workers said if the fumes were too much we could go into one of the other cars. Then it became too much and we had to leave at Canton Junction.”

When the train stopped in Canton, “They had us get off,” he said. “Then back on for a few minutes. Then back off again. That’s when the fire trucks came.”

Keolis officials apologized for the incident in a series of tweets posted on the MBTA commuter rail Twitter account.

“Dear Providence Line passengers. We would like to apologize for the challenging commute you experienced tonight,” officials tweeted.

Keolis officials said the locomotive for Train 831 “briefly had excess smoke coming from the exhaust” as a result of the engine fire, which went out on its own when the engine was turned off.

“Local fire department officials did not have to extinguish it,” officials tweeted, “and no injuries to passengers or crews have been reported at this time, as it did not occur in a passenger area.”


Keolis officials said the train was sent to a maintenance facility for “further review.”

“We again apologize for the cascading delays along the line and the inconvenience which they have caused, but we would like to thank you for your patience during this frustrating commute,” the final tweet said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.