Norfolk Southern train fire causes delays

Published 11:19 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

A fire on a Norfolk Southern train early Saturday morning forced the southbound rail to be shut down for around two hours.

The fire broke out in the engine of the train around 7 a.m. in the Moreland area, according to Lincoln County Emergency Management (LCEM) Director Don Gilliam.

While the blaze produced heavy smoke, it didn’t spread to any other part of the train. Lincoln County Fire Department Station 3 responded to the fire which was just off KY Hwy 2141 near Community Center Drive.

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Gilliam said there was no mystery as to what was the cause of the fire.

“The engine blew a piston. What happened is, when it blew that piston, it dumped diesel fuel and oil onto the motor, which was already hot. It kind of smoldered and, after a little time, when it hit the flashpoint, it ignited,” he said. “When it was noticed then they called us.”

Gilliam said that this type of fire is not uncommon on trains and that he takes an average of six such calls each year. But in the event of such fires, fire departments are called.

“They are not uncommon. Sometimes they are able to extinguish those by themselves. But they can be a problem,” he said. “You got 5,000 pounds of diesel fuel under that engine and something goes wrong, you’ve got a big problem. So they always call the fire department just in case and we have EMS stand by and all that good stuff. We have to take it serious and respond to it.”

Just this week, Lincoln County rails have been shut down twice for fires caused by blown pistons.

“We actually had another one yesterday (Monday). The same thing down in Waynesburg,” Gilliam said. “This time the firemen, engineer and brakeman were able to get it out before we (LCEM) actually got on scene.”

Although out of service, Gilliam says the engine involved in Saturday’s fire should be back on the track eventually.

“They would push that engine on down to Burnside where they would off load it. Later a train going the other way would pick it up and take it back to wherever they do the repairs. The engine was disabled in the event that it wasn’t operational, but it could be moved up and down the track for repairs.”

No injuries were reported.

Lincoln County Fire Station 3 and LCEM had cleared the scene by 9 a.m.