A commuter nightmare came true in the subway tunnel near Grand Central on Monday night. At around 11 p.m., passengers on a Queens-bound 7 train heard an ominous sound. Some people described it as a “pop,” though PIX 11 production assistant Christopher Brito, who happened to be headed for Jackson Heights, said it was more of a “rushing noise, like an airplane was about to ascend, followed by a ball of orange.” After that, the cars began to fill with smoke and the train’s power was cut off, trapping everyone on board for what must have been a very long-seeming 20 minutes.
“Frickin’ stuck in the 7 train — there was a frickin’ fireball or some shit, some type of explosion,” explained this Instagram user as he filmed his fellow passengers ducking and covering their mouths and noses so they could breathe. “Frickin’ place is full of smoke.”
Other riders reported “panic and confusion.” Some people said that they passed out.
The train was eventually brought back to Grand Central, where it was evacuated. Service on the line was suspended for about an hour and a half while FDNY crews “worked the scene,” but NBC New York reports that the cause of the terrifying incident remains “mysterious.” Meanwhile, the MTA says that riders were never in any actual danger because fans were blowing fresh air into the cars throughout the stoppage. Comforting, sort of.