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Firefighters extinguish blazing locomotive in McKeesport

By Tim Karan and Jennifer R. Vertullo
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 3:41 a.m.
 

McKeesport and Dravosburg firefighters quickly and cautiously extinguished a blazing locomotive and prevented the fire from spreading to other train cars early on Tuesday morning.

An on-duty McKeesport crew and volunteers from Dravosburg's No. 1 company were dispatched at approximately 2 a.m. to the Delmer Road facility, where they found an engine on fire. It was attached to more than 80 cars carrying flammable liquid.

“I've been on the job for 20 years, and I'd never seen anything like that,” McKeesport Deputy Chief Ed Harmon said. “It was dangerous. We knew we couldn't rush in.”

The locomotive was charged with powerful electricity and had fuel tanks on both sides, Harmon explained. He said the situation needed fire-suppression foam, rather than a steady stream of water.

“The locomotive had to be shut down and isolated,” Harmon said. “We knew we had to bring other resources in, and we used our time wisely until they got there.”

Dravosburg crews used their equipment to get the foam onto the fire, and a crew from U.S. Steel's Irvin Works waited with backup materials. Harmon said he was impressed by firefighters' work, and it was a “miracle” that the fire didn't spread.

CSX spokesperson Kristin Seay said the train was traveling from Chicago to Baltimore.

“The train had four locomotives, 80 rail cars carrying ethanol and one buffer car between the locomotives and freight cars,” she said. “The fire was reported in the fourth locomotive.”

Firefighters were on scene until approximately 5 a.m., and normal train operations resumed by 6 a.m.

“The cause of the fire is currently under investigation,” she said. “CSX thanks the McKeesport Fire Department and first responders on scene this morning. Thankfully, there were no injuries.”

Tim Karan and Jennifer R. Vertullo are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Karan can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com, and Vertullo can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

 

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