“We are investigating it as a criminal matter,” Deputy Chief Brian McGee said, adding that no arrests have been made. The fire killed a motorman who was helping passengers to safety, officials said, and came the day after two of his fellow New York City Transit employees fell victim to the coronavirus.
“As all of you know, this has already been a devastating week for New York City Transit," said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the agency that runs the city's buses and subways. “And this is another horrific moment for our family.”
A train had just pulled into the 110th Street station in Harlem, near Central Park, around 3 a.m. when a transit worker saw smoke and fire in one of the cars, said McGee, who joined Feinberg at a news conference at the scene.
The motorman and another transit employee successfully evacuated passengers from the train, Feinberg said. The motorman's body was found on the tracks, McGee said. The 36-year-old motorman was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead, police said. His name was not immediately released.
Fires were also reported at around the same time at three nearby stations — 86th Street, 96th Street and 116th Street, McGee said. “The most important thing that I need is for witnesses to come forward,” he said, urging New Yorkers to call a police tip line.
Nine other people were injured, a lower number than some earlier reports had indicated, Feinberg said. “Early numbers are wrong and we’ll have to see how it plays out,” she said. The fatal fire occurred a day after two other New York City Transit employees died of COVID-19, according to their union.
Bus driver Oliver Cyrus, 61, and train conductor Peter Petrassi, 49, were killed by the virus Thursday, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said.