By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN It has been a week of unique calls for members of the Delano Fire Department.
A handful of firefighters were able to take part in the early-morning delivery of a baby girl at a Delano residence early Sunday morning (see separate story), and also extinguished a train car that had started on fire Tuesday morning around 11:21 a.m.
As a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train was traveling westbound from the Twin Cities toward Delano, a boxcar several cars back from the engine of the train caught fire.
Delano Fire Chief Bob Van Lith said the car was full of metal shavings that were headed eventually to Texas.
“It was scrap metal that they were hauling, and it had a lot of cutting oils on it that caught fire,” Van Lith said. He spoke with railroad officials, who said the boxcar was sitting in a yard in Minneapolis over the previous weekend and that the Minneapolis Fire Department was also called Saturday afternoon to the car to extinguish a fire in it.
As the car approached Delano, the train stopped just east of the railroad crossing at County Line Road, and the car that was on fire was disconnected and pulled ahead into the intersection on County Line Road near Stahlke Bus Service. Van Lith said this was done for safety and to separate the load from other cars so nothing else would catch on fire.
After the Delano Fire Department cooled the car down and extinguished the fire, it was reconnected to the rest of the train and pulled by its engine to Howard Lake, where it was dropped off.
Van Lith said railroad officials were going to determine at that point if they would need to transfer the load to a different car. He also notified the Howard Lake Fire Department that the car would be in Howard Lake, but said Thursday he had not heard any additional calls regarding the train car. Delano firefighters were on scene for about an hour.
Van Lith said his department has dealt with train cars on fire on several occasions, but not very frequently. He said the department trains for incidents like this, and said most of the time, it’s coal cars that are heading into the Twin Cities that will catch on fire.
During dry months, Van Lith said it’s more common for a train to throw sparks from the tracks that can cause adjoining grasses to start on fire, leading to grass fires.
Wright County Sheriff’s Office and West Hennepin Public Safety assisted the Delano Fire Department.