Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pan Am Train May Have Sparked Five-alarm Fire

(SOURCE:  Trains.com News Wire)

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine. – Fire officials in southern Maine believe that a five-alarm wildfire may have been sparked by a passing Pan Am Railways train on Thursday afternoon, WCSH-TV reports.

The blaze destroyed 10 trailers and damaged six others at a trackside campground after some propane tanks caught fire and exploded, according to witnesses. The fires were reported shortly after 1 p.m., not long after Amtrak's Downeaster and a freight train went through the area.

“First we heard the passenger train go by and about five minutes later we heard an old freighter just hauling down the tracks,” Cindy Rowe tells WCSH. “You could see it was sparking. Almost immediately (you could smell) a burning tire smell and we saw that some grass and stuff was on fire.”

The train was later stopped in Portland so that it could be inspected, according to railroad officials. Photos of the fire show smoke and flames along the right-of-way for more than a mile and, according to the local fire chief, other brush fires were reported along the tracks in five communities from Old Orchard Beach to Scarborough.

Because of dry conditions and warm weather, southern Maine's fire danger is high right now. High winds may have also helped the blaze spread, regardless of its cause.

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