Union Pacific Railroad Bridge Catches Fire in Springfield (OR)

Firefighter helmet

Louis Krauss

The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.

(MCT)

The Union Pacific train trestle in Springfield caught fire early Monday morning, causing “moderate” damage to the bridge before it was put out by firefighters.

Trains are still able to use the bridge, although they are moving at a reduced speed.

After early investigation, a fire marshal for the Eugene Springfield Fire Department found the cause to be undetermined, according to Battalion Chief Mike Caven.

However, the two most likely causes are either sparks from a train that malfunctioned while passing through or a warming fire from someone camping there, Caven said.

“It sounds from the railroad maybe they had an issue with a train that went through the area,” he said.

The fire was reported at 1:30 a.m., when flames engulfed the bridge where it crosses over South 2nd Street and South B Street in Springfield, according to Union Pacific spokesperson Robynn Tysvera. No injuries were reported.

The blaze took about 20 minutes to get under control, Caven said. He added that the fire was very large and took longer to put out because the trestle has a considerable amount of grease on it, and was difficult to access.

“You have to realize it’s not just a wood fire but a petroleum-based fuel fire, which can really heat up,” he said. “If that happened during the day everybody would have seen it. It would have been a pretty fantastic plume of black smoke.”

The fire was threatening nearby Hexion Chemical and crews were able to stop the spread of fire toward the plant, according a fire department news release.

Trains have resumed passing over the bridge at a slower speed as a precaution, according to Tysvera.

“The fire is under control and contained to the wooden ties above land,” Tysvera said in an email.

The railroad company is still inspecting the bridge, Tysvera said.

The fire department will continue to monitor the bridge, and Caven said the damage level appears to be “moderate.”

“Structurally it’s still pretty sound, obviously, if they’re taking trains over it,” he said.

Caven said he did not notice any evidence of people camping under the trestle, and said it seems unlikely that caused it.

“There’s no obvious evidence that caused the fire or that anybody was there,” Caven said. “It’s going to be pretty impossible to truly narrow that down.”

Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at lkrauss@registerguard.com or 541-521-2498, and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Union Pacific Railroad bridge catches fire in Springfield

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