Bend fire crews stop a locomotive fire on the tracks south of Bend

(Update: added video, more details on fire from Deputy Fire Marshal)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — A fire broke out Wednesday morning in the front locomotive of a BNSF Railway freight train south of Bend, bringing Bend Fire crews to the scene to extinguish the blaze. All crew members got off the train safely and no injuries were reported.

Bend Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched just before 11:30 a.m. to the reported fire in the first engine of a northbound train that had stopped west of mile marker 145 on Highway 97 , near Lava Butte.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the fire started four miles south of Bend in the lead locomotive of a 40-car freight train heading north from Klamath Falls to Bend , loaded with general cargo, such as asphalt and wood products.

The two-person crew immediately stopped the train and got off, with first responders on scene quickly, as well as BNSF mechanical personnel inspecting both the track and the train, Melonas said. The line was closed, he said, and no derailments were reported.

Initial reports of the scene indicated that smoke and flames were coming from the top of the front locomotive, which had been shut down. The fire was extinguished within an hour.

Melonas said by late afternoon they had isolated the lead locomotive and were moving it to a nearby siding, for staff to make any necessary adjustments. He said the slopes would reopen in the evening.

Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said the fire started in an overhead compartment of the locomotive, just behind the engineer’s cab.

“They were able to stop, get him away from any areas that would threaten homes,” Derlacki said.

The train’s brake system power supply is located in this area, but Derlacki said none of the fuel lines for the engine’s roughly 4,700 gallons of diesel were involved in the fire, which was stopped before that it cannot spread further in the train or outside.

“The fire occurred in one of the electrical compartments,” Derlacki said. “It involved no diesel or fuel for the locomotive, and no nearby train cars were considered hazardous material, so there was no release to the area.”

Derlacki said the train was a standard locomotive hauling lumber, asphalt tar and other materials traveling from Klamath Falls to Bend.

“None of that was threatened by this fire, the fire is being maintained in that engine compartment in the electrical area,” Derlacki said.

Fire crews were able to put out the flames, but had to wait for the Klamath Falls locomotive engineer to show up before doing anything else.

“This is a high-energy compartment, so we need to have the railroad company and their mechanics there before we go and open this,” Derlacki said.

The Deschutes River Woods emergency exit doors were opened for a brief period to allow firefighters to reach the scene, Derlacki said, adding that the train stopped by the fire did not block any roads or crossings.

The BNSF is working to determine the exact cause of the fire, he said, but it “appeared to be a mechanical or electrical failure of the locomotive.”

A southbound lane of Highway 97 was blocked for Bend Fire crews working at the scene.

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