About 31,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in train derailment near Bridger
BRIDGER — A freight train derailed late Friday night outside Bridger, and dozens of crew members were on site around the clock clearing up debris.
The derailed cars were carrying gasoline, animal fat and plywood. Although neither person on the train was injured, approximately 31,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from the damaged cars.
“We practice all the time for (derailments), but this is my first response to one,” Clark’s Fork Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Dillon Thomas said, entering his 13th hour at the scene.
A local resident reported the derailment around 11:30 a.m. Friday. The BNSF train was heading east and 15 of its approximately 115 cars derailed about half a mile east of Bridger. Two of the derailed cars were carrying gasoline and began to leak after impact.
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BNSF HAZMAT personnel worked to prevent contamination of surrounding farmland. Evacuation warnings have been issued to nearby residents, Thomas told the Gazette.
While BNSF crews clean up the derailed cars, several local agencies will remain on the scene, said Maggie Karas of Carbon County Disaster and Emergency Services. These agencies include Clark’s Fork Rural Fire, Bridger Fire and Police, and members of the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office.
In estimating the amount of gasoline spilled from the derailment, Karas said a 30,000-gallon tank was completely drained. A second damaged tank leaked about 1,000 gallons before BNSF workers repaired the tank. As of Saturday afternoon, no information was available on possible contamination of groundwater or irrigation systems in the area.
Carbon County Commissioner Scott Miller, whose district includes Bridger, praised the efforts of BNSF and local first responders in an emailed statement to the Gazette. Some residents who woke up Saturday morning to a train derailment also experienced the historic early summer flooding that ravaged several towns in Carbon County, he said.
BNSF’s Ben Wilemon said in an email that he estimated the track would reopen on Sunday afternoon.
“Our crews are in the process of removing the derailed cars. When the cars are removed and site remediation is complete, the crews will perform track grading and install track panels. The current estimate for the reopening of the track is Sunday afternoon. The cause of the derailment is being investigated,” Wilemon said.
South River Road, at the intersection of Rushwater Road, was to remain closed until Saturday evening.