Burlington Northern Santa Fe Niota Mishap

BNSF's Niota, IL Mishap

A Preservation Perspective...

See pictures of the involved engines BNSF 101 and BNSF 519. Or read about the entire story.

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BNSF #101

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BNSF #519

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Train derailment causes evacuation

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NIOTA, Ill. (AP) -- Residents of this Mississippi
River community and the town of Fort Madison, Iowa are
back in their homes after they were forced to evacuate
for several hours after two freight trains collided
and one caught fire.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. freight train was
apparently switching tracks when it derailed and
collided with the second train, according to Fort
Madison Assistant Fire Chief Dale Clark.

Crews from both trains jumped free before the crash
late Friday, paramedic Jesse Juarez said. No injuries
were reported.

Diesel fuel from one of the damaged engines ignited,
sending billowing black smoke over parts of Fort
Madison, prompting the evacuation of about 100 nearby
homes, Clark said.

The entire small town of Niota was evacuated as a
precaution. Residents in both towns were allowed back
to their homes just after 11 p.m.

A billowing cloud of black smoke could be seen for
about 20 miles before sunset, and firefighters needed
almost four hours to control the blaze. More than a
half-dozen fire departments from Illinois and Iowa
battled the fire, but their efforts were hampered by a
lack of hydrants in the rural area. Pumper trucks
filled tankers with river water and other tankers
brought water from Niota, Clark said.

Further complicating efforts, one of the trains was
blocking the only crossing that allows easy access to
the fire.

The bridge over the Mississippi between Niota and Fort
Madison was closed to traffic, forcing motorists to
detour about 15 miles south to Keokuk, Iowa, or about
22 miles north to Burlington, Iowa. Officials expected
the bridge to reopen by early Saturday morning.

The fire continued to smolder under the wreckage,
which was being monitored by volunteer fire brigades
early Saturday, Clark said. Water continued to be
poured on the debris as railroad workers began efforts
to clear the tracks of damaged rail cars.

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Copyright © 2000 Scott Ikemyer,QStation