Metro finishes seals on ‘orange boots’ tied to deadly L’Enfant smoke

WASHINGTON — Metro has now finished adding protective seals to cable connector assemblies across the rail system that were blamed for the deadly 2015 smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld called completing the sealing sleeves on the 9,454 “orange boots” across the rail system a safety milestone three years in the making.

“These sleeves prevent moisture and particles from encountering the electrical current, thus preventing fire and smoke incidents,” Wiedefeld said.

Metro had first focused on the power connections in underground tunnels where smoke and fire pose the biggest risk before moving to the orange boots elsewhere in the system. The connections in rail yards were only recently completed. Federal inspection reports found numerous issues in rail yards remained this winter.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended the seals on orange boots after Carol Glover died when a Yellow Line train filled with smoke near L’Enfant Plaza in January 2015 and riders waited to be evacuated.

Water issues in the tunnel and a lack of cable protection were among the issues blamed for Glover’s death.

“We have been working since then to make the critical improvements, and will continue our inspection and maintenance program to ensure the connectors remain in a state of good repair,” Wiedefeld said.

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