Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fire inside railroad tunnel causing concern in Pike County

A fire in a Pike County railroad tunnel is causing some concern for folks in the area. Several schools cancelled class on Monday, as the Robinson Creek area fills with heavy smoke and fumes.

Monday morning, firefighters from Shelby Valley worked to extinguish the flames inside the tunnel that stretches 700 feet through the mountain.

Pike County Emergency Management Director, Doug Tackett says, "It is still burning on both ends there, heavy smoke coming out and as the humidity rises it keeps the smoke pushed down around the homes and schools."

Emergency Management officials say the odor is due to the old age of the tunnel and how it was built.
Tackett says, "Timbers within that tunnel were treated with creosote years ago which emits some toxic fumes when burning and if treated with a lot of water it can create some run off and there can be toxic run off from that."

For that reason firefighters did stop battling the flames Monday afternoon.

Tackett says, "The railroad company has a contractor on site to haul in dirt to each side in an attempt to smother it out."

Officials do 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.
nvestigators 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.