UPDATE: Train Tunnel Fire Still Burning

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 5/12/14
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A precautionary shelter in place for people living near the railroad tunnel at Robinson Creek in Pike County has been lifted, according to Pike County Emergency Management Director, Doug Tackett.

The advisory was put in place on Sunday after one end of the 700 foot tunnel was unsealed to see if the fire was still burning.

The fire in the CSX tunnel was reported on April 26. The tunnel, which was built more than 100 years ago, is lined with timbers that were soaked in creosote.

Crews used dirt to seal off both ends of the tunnel in an attempt to smother the fire.

Over the weekend, the Robinson Creek end of the tunnel was unsealed, and crews found the fire was still burning. That end of the tunnel was then resealed, according Tackett.

Tackett says there is no fire in the other end of the tunnel.

Officials with TECO Coal say their Premier Elkhorn site uses the rail line through the tunnel.

At last word, CSX Transportation officials did not have a timeline for when the tunnel will reopen.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



4/30/14 @ 10:20 a.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – Efforts to put out a fire in a 700 foot train tunnel continue in Pike County, Ky.

Crews have used dirt to seal off both ends of the tunnel in an attempt to smother the fire that's been burning since Saturday in the CSX tunnel in the Robinson Creek area.

The tunnel, which was built more than 100 years ago, is lined with timbers that were soaked in creosote.

On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency officials kept a close eye on air quality in the area.

"We are working to make sure the air quality is where it should be and we are not into what would be called alarm limit," says Pike County Emergency Management Director, Doug Tackett

EPA officials say they did see increases in various matter in the air, but say it has subsided substantially and is back to what they feel are normal levels for this time of year.

On-site coordinator for The EPA, Matthew Huyser says, "We want to make sure those areas are adequately protected so we have had constant remote monitoring day and night."

The tunnel is also across from Shelby Valley HS, which was closed Monday due to the smoke from the fire.

As the tunnel becomes sealed off, folks in the area say their concern is switching from that heavy smoke to the impact this may have on the local coal economy while the rail line is shut down.

"It is a disaster for this area," says Jerry Slone, who lives near the tunnel.

Slone says he watched a 90-car train loaded with coal pass by his home on Thursday. He says he never guessed it would be the last train he'd see there for awhile.

Officials with TECO Coal say their Premier Elkhorn site uses the rail line.

Dave Blankenship says, "We are currently exploring other options for shipment." He adds, "We are working every way possible to keep everyone working."

CSX Transportation officials say they do not have a timeline for when the tunnel will reopen.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/29/14 @ 2:50 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Crews continue to battle a fire in a railroad tunnel in Pike County.

The fire started Saturday night in the Robinson Creek area, which is across US 23 from Shelby Valley High School.

The tunnel is owned by CSX and has been used by coal prep plants in the area.

Doug Tackett, Director of Pike County Emergency Services, says the 700 foot long tunnel was built years ago and lined with timber that was treated with creosote.

CSX crews brought in dirt to seal the tunnel to smother the fire. As of Tuesday afternoon, one end of the tunnel was completely sealed and crews are working to finish sealing the other end.

Once the tunnel is sealed, they will let it set for two-to-three days, and then start to uncover the openings to see if the fire is out.

Once the fire is out, investigators will look into the cause of the fire.

Tackett says there are some concerns about toxic runoff from the fire, so the state is on scene conducting water sampling. No test results have been returned.

Air monitoring is also taking place for carbon monoxide levels and particulate levels.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/28/14
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Crews have been on scene for the past few days fighting a fire in a railroad tunnel.

Doug Tackett, Director of Pike County Emergency Services, tells WSAZ.com that the fire started Saturday night.

It's burning in a CSX train tunnel in the Robinson Creek area, which is across US 23 from Shelby Valley High School.

Shelby Valley was closed Monday due to smoke from the fire.

Tackett says the 700 foot long tunnel was built years ago and lined with timber that was treated with creosote.

The track and tunnel serve coal prep plants in the area.

CSX is bringing in a contractor to seal up both ends of the tunnel with dirt to smother the fire.

The fire is under control now.

No injuries were reported.

Officials say at this point air monitoring by environmentalists for carbon monoxide does not show any danger but does say more in depth testing will be done.

"Tomorrow there is going to be some specific monitoring for particular matter and things of that nature," says Tackett.

Investigators say since the fire has been difficult to put out, they have not been able to get inside and determine a cause.

In a statement from CSX officials they say there is significant damage to the tunnel and do not have a timeline as to when the line will reopen.

CSX is working with the state fire marshal's office to determine a cause.


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