Train engine fire in Phippsburg puts volunteers into action
A few feet above a fuel reservoir with a capacity of 40,000 gallons, the engine pulling a Union Pacific coal train caught fire Tuesday, Aug. 9, en route through Phippsburg.
Yampa Fire Protection is comprised of volunteers exclusively, and they had to drop whatever they were doing at about 3 p.m. Tuesday to quickly get to the burning train.
“I was painting,” said Tara Cox, one of the volunteer firefighters.
Angela Bracegirdle, another volunteer, was working at a medical clinic in Oak Creek when she got the call. Lacy Trout was driving into Steamboat Springs when she found out she needed to make a U-turn back to Phippsburg. Anthony Zywicki came all the way from Hayden.
Trout served as the engineer for Yampa’s fire engine, while Cox and Bracegirdle ran the hose and put water on the flame.
“I’m just here for mop-up duty,” Zywicki said.
The source of the fire was not known, but it was speculated to have been started by oil in a pan underneath the engine. Once the fire erupted, the immediate concern became the fuel reservoir directly under the train car.
The team estimated it took about two minutes to extinguish the fire once the hose attacked the flames.
“Everything went real smooth,” Bracegirdle said. “By the time we got up close, it wasn’t too hot.”
Two Oak Creek fire engines and an ambulance assisted at the scene, while Yampa Fire provided an engine and an ambulance.
Greg Peterson, captain of Yampa’s volunteer emergency medical services, said train engine fires are relatively common, and he saw plenty of them back when he worked for a coal company.
By 4:30 p.m., the damaged train was rolled along the rails to be refitted with another engine.
“They’ll run it down, break it off, switch it out, put another one in and they’ll be gone,” Peterson said.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.