New Metro cars blamed for continuing problems

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metro logoWASHINGTON — A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration rail technician says the increased power needs of Metro’s 7000-series cars – the system’s newest rail stock – is damaging the system that transmits electric power to trains, resulting in problems – including fires – that can cause delays.

“The fires are caused by these current draws by the 7000s,” Metro Automatic Train Operation technician Jack

Bounthong said in October. “We never had a fire incident before we got the 7000s.”

Bounthong explained how trains made up of 7000-series cars are causing track fires and other damage to the propulsion system that powers the trains. The 7000-series’ increased power needs are also responsible for delays because the increased power use can generate so much heat that sensors located near crossover tracks (where a train can switch from one track to the other) can erroneously sense a non-existent train on the opposite side of the tracks and send incorrect signals to other trains, as well as the Rail Operations Control Center.

“Now you got trains backing up – that’s why you get those delays,” he said, “because signals go in and out – the train will sit at the signal for no apparent reason.”


History found at Dietle’s

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A 1916 copy of The Montgomery County Sentinel was found at Dietle’s after a recent fire. A 1916 copy of The Montgomery County Sentinel was found at Dietle’s after a recent fire.  COURTESY PHOTO  While clearing debris after a Feb. 14 fire the nearly destroyed Hank Dietle’s tavern on Rockville Pike, volunteers who have donated time over the last two weeks to clean up the damage to the beloved 102-year-old bar found a 102-year-old copy of the Montgomery County Sentinel.

“When I saw that, I said ‘wow that’s something interesting,’” said John Bennaman, a regular at Dietle’s who has volunteer to help clean up the place after the fire.

The copy of the paper that Bennaman and others found is dated Feb. 18, 1916, the year the bar originally opened on Rockville Pike. Bennaman, a regular at Dietle’s with his father Dennis Bennaman, said he and several others found the paper while clearing debris in Dietle’s basement, which was mostly untouched from the fire that severely damaged the mostly wooden over century old general store opened by Edward Offutt in 1916. The tavern’s namesake Hank Dietle converted the general store into a bar sometime in the 1950s.


Customers remember beloved times at historic Hank Dietle’s

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Hank Dietle’s Tavern recently burned.  FILE PHOTOHank Dietle’s Tavern recently burned. FILE PHOTO  ROCKVILLE— The 102 year-old general store-turned-tavern that sat along Rockville Pike was often described as the Montgomery County’s oldest dive bar.

Longtime residents often recounted legends of the place that was a road stop for tight-knit group counterculture rebels, a refuge that sheltered bikers, rockers and all manner of miscreants. But the real story of Hank Dietle’s, which caught fire and burned last week, is much more complex.

Some of the stories about Hank Dietle’s – which boasted a legendary reputation as a stop for bikers, rowdy rock bands and locals alike – are true. But the Rockville Pike landmark often defied its stereotypical description as a rough dive bar, and was just as likely to be described as a family-friendly neighborhood bar and a welcoming watering hole open to every class of citizen under the sun.


“No Place Like Dietle’s”

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Famous local dive bar goes up in flames taking a century of memories with it

One of the most historic watering holes in the county burned this week. Dietle’s had been in the county for more than a century COURTESY PHOTOOne of the most historic watering holes in the county burned this week. Dietle’s had been in the county for more than a century COURTESY PHOTO  A century of good times went up in smoke early Wednesday morning when a fire reduced Hank Dietle’s Tavern, a longtime Rockville Pike landmark, to ashes.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer called the damage the fire inflicted on the century-old wooden building – which has served as a local watering hole since 1916 – “almost a total loss” and said the fire was likely accidental, and was probably caused by smoking materials that were left on the tavern’s wooden porch.

“When fire crews arrived, there were some pretty heavy fire conditions throughout the structure,” Piringer said.

At about 2:45 a.m. firefighters responded to reports of a fire at the tavern’s location on 11010 Rockville Pike, where they encountered heavy enough smoke and fire that they called reinforcements to the scene. In total, the fire required the efforts of 65 firefighters to extinguish it. Piringer said no one was injured or killed in the fire.

“They made some pretty quick work of it – they were able to knock it down in 15 minutes or so,” Piringer said, adding that the total cost of the damage was up to $500,000 – $400,000 from the building and $100,000 from the contents.

Hank Dietle’s became Montgomery County’s first ever alcohol licensee when it opened as a general store in 1916. Owners converted the general store to a bar in the 1950s, after which it served as a casual local establishment for beer and live music.

The bar’s loyal patrons took to Facebook early Wednesday to express condolences for the tavern to its owners.


Fire hits Rockville apartment complex

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About 150 firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire Friday afternoon at the Fireside Park Apartments in Rockville.  PHOTO BY NEAL EARLEYAbout 150 firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire Friday afternoon at the Fireside Park Apartments in Rockville. PHOTO BY NEAL EARLEY  ROCKVILLE — More than 60 people have been displaced after the Fireside Park Apartments caught fire Friday afternoon.

Approximately 150 firefighters responded to the call for a three-alarm fire at the Fireside Park Apartments, located at 735 Monroe Street in Rockville, around 1:30 p.m.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer said that no residents or firefighters were injured or killed in the fire.


Two-alarm Olney fire destroys townhouse, displaces 20 neighbors

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Olney FireA two-alarm fire at an Olney townhouse displaced 20 people from their neighboring homes Friday night. PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  A two-alarm fire in Olney Friday night obliterated an entire townhouse, caused approximately $1.4 million in damages and displaced 20 people from neighboring homes, fire officials reported.

The fire started in a townhouse community in the 3500 block of Softwood Terrace as a result of a unidentified resident using lighter fluid to restart a wood-burning fire in the basement, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Spokesman Pete Piringer said.

“There was some kind of malfunction with the lighter fluid can,” Piringer said. “The fire came back at him and the rest of the lighter fluid became involved. Then the fire spread rapidly.”

The resident left the door to the basement open when evacuating, which fueled the fire, according to Piringer.

Piringer said a neighbor called the fire department after noticing the neighbor’s deck ablaze.

Station 40 of the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department on Georgia Avenue in Olney was the first to respond at 7:15 p.m. Approximately 100 MCFRS firefighters overall from multiple stations responded to the fire, Piringer said.


Metro passenger remembers 2015 Metrorail smoke incident

“This is it. This is how I’ll die.”

That’s what Tom Davey thought at the bleakest moments in the January 2015 Metrorail smoke incident that claimed the life of another passenger, Carol Glover.

Davey even tried to call his ex-wife so she could tell their daughter Althea that he loved her. But he couldn’t get a phone connection.

Federal investigations of the electrical fire, which burned the third rail and electrical cables, uncovered irregular maintenance, failure to replace old equipment, faulty safety inspections, and inadequate emergency protocols. The incident served as a wakeup call to Metro and the community that the increased safety effort, following the catastrophic 2009 crash that took nine lives, fell way short of the needed level.


Anniversary vigil honors victims of fatal fire

  • Published in Local

SILVER SPRING — Flower Branch tenant Felicia Prospere said she can still remember the cries and screams from the fire and explosion that killed seven at the Silver Spring apartment complex last August.

“As soon as I opened – my husband opened the door – I just saw flames – big flames, people crying and screaming, people, you know, letting kids out of the windows, out of the balcony, people just crying for help,” Prospere said. “I couldn’t help them, all I could do was run to save my own life.”

On Aug. 10, the first anniversary of the fire at the Flower Branch Apartments complex located on Arliss Street in Silver Spring, tenants and community members gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the sudden death and destruction from one year ago. Faith leaders, tenants, activists and politicians were present to remember the tenants that died in the fire: Fernando Jose Hernandez Orellana, 3, Deibi “David” Samir Lainez Morales, 8, Aseged Mekonen, 34, Saeda Ibrahim Deibi Samir, 41, Maria Auxiliadorai Castellon-Martinez, 53, Augusto Jimenez Sr., 62 and Saul Paniagua, 65.


Fire and Rescue respond to trash fire in Silver Spring

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Trash fire 1Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to a trash fire at an apartment complex in Silver Spring. PHOTO COURTESY OF ABBY SALISU Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to a trash fire in Silver Spring Friday morning.

MCFRS Spokesperson Pete Piringer said firefighters responded to a call about a large trash fire at the Aston Woods apartment complex on Gateshead Manor Way in Silver Spring at around 10 a.m. Friday. Piringer said no one was injured in the fire.

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