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Rail passengers evacuated after carriage catches fire


Rail passengers evacuated after carriage catches fire

MORE than 100 passengers had to be evacuated from a train after a carriage caught fire.

Smoke was seen pouring from the mainline express train as commuters and travellers were forced to disembark the service.

Firefighters were called to deal with the incident, which happened at Tiverton Parkway.

Many passengers travelling on the 4.36pm London Paddington to Exeter St David's First Great Western train were left stranded at the station for more than an hour and a half while fire crews and train engineers dealt with the incident.

Russell Shire, a 23-year-old picture editor of St James, Exeter, was travelling home from London on the train.

He captured the drama on his camera phone.

"There was a lot of smoke coming from underneath a chair and the carriage filled up with smoke," he said.

"We all had to get off the train while around 20 firefighters tried to find the fire.

"They initially let us get back on the train but then we had to get off again.

"A lot of people were quite angry as there didn't seem to be any replacement buses provided.

"I waited an hour and a half before managing to get a lift home from a friend."

Five fire engines from Cullompton, Tiverton and Exeter's Middlemoor fire stations attended the incident, which happened at about 7pm on Thursday.

Fire crews said they were unable to discover where the fire was coming from and used thermal imaging equipment to locate the source of the fire. Crew commander Greg Webb, of Middlemoor fire station, said: "When we arrived at the scene, there was smoke issuing from the ground floor air duct.

"Efforts were made to locate the fire but we could not find the source of it.

"The cabin was quite badly smoke-logged.

"Everyone had to be evacuated from the train, which had six carriages and two power units.

"I believe buses had been organised to take the passengers on the onward journeys but there were about 100 people hanging around on the platform."

He added: "We think the fire started in a ventilation fan, which may have overheated or some rubbish may have got caught in it.

"Although there was a lot of smoke, it could have been more serious and we thought it was going to be worse than it was."

The fire is believed to have had a knock-on effect on several other services travelling through Tiverton Parkway.

Trains travelling in the opposite direction also suffered delays.

British Transport Police, based at Exeter St David's station, said they were made aware of the incident but were not required to attend.

A spokesman from First Great Western said: "An investigation into what caused the smoke is currently under way.

"There were minor delays to other services but nothing major.

"We thank customers for their patience and apologise to them for any inconvenience which may have been caused."

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