The fire broke out around 3:20 a.m., and took about half an hour to get under control
110th Street Central Park North subway stop
Credit: Google Maps

A 36-year-old MTA employee was killed and at least nine people were injured after an early morning fire broke out inside a New York City subway car, officials said.

The blaze erupted just before 3:20 a.m. on Friday on an uptown No. 2 train at the 110th Street Central Park North stop in Harlem, an FDNY spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

The spokesperson said those hurt included four civilians with critical injuries, and seven with serious, non life-threatening injuries.

Five firefighters were among the injured, though they suffered minor injuries, the spokesperson said.

FDNY Deputy Chief Fred Schaaf told reporters on the scene that 17 people were hurt, though NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said at a press conference that she knew of nine injuries, and that the early numbers were wrong.

The 36-year-old man was discovered on the tracks and removed, and was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital, a spokesperson for the NYPD tells PEOPLE.

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Feinberg said an MTA conductor employee reported smoke and fire as the subway car entered the station, and two employees on the train — including one who happened to be riding as a passenger — helped evacuate passengers from the train and off the platform.

A second train in the tunnel behind the incident train was successfully evacuated by the FDNY through the tunnel and an emergency exit, she said.

“We are devastated by this. This is a hard moment for New York transit, a devastating incident,” said Feinberg. “Our hearts and prayers are with our family, with our work force, and with the family and loved ones of our family member who’s passed away.”

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control after about half an hour, though it remains unclear how it began, or whether it started inside or outside the car.

“It’s in the subway station, so there’s no ventilation, or limited ventilation. Besides that, you have to get the hose lines down through turnstiles which are also secured and everything,” Schaaf told reporters. “It made it a difficult operation, but that’s what we do. We overcome and we put it out.”

Officials said the fire is being looked at as a criminal investigation, and that officials are also looking to see whether separate fires at 86th Street, 96th Street and 116th Street are connected.