Purchase photos

Train collision causes fire

7/16/2013

By The Hays Daily News

By The Hays Daily News

HAYS, Kan. — Smoke rose today from the intersection of Eighth and Vine as fire crews battled a blaze caused by a westbound freight train striking a standing train early this morning.

The accident occurred at approximately 1:25 a.m. At noon, the fire was reported as out, although public safety officials remained on the scene to monitor the situation.

"There's been some discussion about letting it burn out," Public Information Officer Kerry McCue said at an 8 a.m. briefing.

Three locomotives and 79 cars were part of the train, which was carrying low-grade ethanol and general freight including steel, wheat, beer and particle board. Twenty tankers carrying low-grade ethanol did not derail, but approximately a dozen freight cars were seen overturned.

Of the three locomotives, the fuel for two of them was on fire. The train had just stopped in Salina to take on 12,000 gallons of diesel. Flames reached as high as 40 feet into the air at the height of the fire.

Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said all three crew members of the Salina-to-Denver freight train were accounted for and uninjured. The second train, which Davis has no details on, was unoccupied when it was struck.

UP safety officials were allowed access to the scene as fire crews attempted to quell the fire, but were able to begin their investigation after it was contained.

Responding to the scene were the Hays Fire Department, Ellis County Rural Fire Department, Victoria Fire Department, Ellis Fire Department, Hays Police Department, Ellis County Sheriff's Office and Ellis County EMS.

The public is being asked to conserve water due to the amount that was used to contain the fire. Fire crews were spraying approximately 5,000 gallons per minute on the fire.

Electricity and gas were shut off in the area, and emergency workers this morning were trying to contain the spill of diesel fuel.

"We are trying to divert the water and contain that water and make sure it doesn't get into Chetolah Creek," McCue said.