Police are searching for the person who lit a suitcase on fire and then rolled it onto a subway train with people on board — the second fire in as many days along the same train line.
The fire onboard a northbound 1 train Friday was captured on video. A witness said he realized something was wrong when he heard someone yell "smoke" just after the train had pulled into the 18th Street station around 10 a.m.
"It looked like someone lit, whether accidentally or on purpose, a piece of rolling luggage on fire, and that had melted into the seats. And that in turn created a bigger fire," said Brendan Cochrane. "All you can do is stand there or call for help. You can't put out the fire because you don't have anything to put out the fire with. That's the thing that's frustrating."
It came after another fire along the 1 line Thursday morning, when an MTA source said that a man set himself on fire at the 23rd Street station. Firefighters raced that man to the hospital with injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening.
MTA sources said that it wasn't clear if the two incidents 27 hours apart were connected.
"These scary episodes underscore what the MTA has been saying for some time: We need to deal with the reality that people with mental health issues are too frequently creating situations that are dangerous and terrifying for our riders, and also for themselves," an MTA spokesperson told NBC New York.
The president of the MTA workers union called the incident "extremely troubling."
The incident is also reminiscent of the arson that killed train operator Garret Goble in March 2020, when a homeless man set a shopping cart on fire.
There were more than 1,000 subway fires reported in 2021. The NYPD's arson squad is investigating into both fires.