Train 'blazes' into Newnan: 25 ft. flames extinguished at East Broad

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This view of the burning CSX engine is from the Salbide Avenue bridge looking north. The second of two engines pulling the load of train cars was spotted burning as the train rolled into Newnan and under the bridge at Jefferson Street and Bullsboro Drive while heading south Thursday morning. (Photo by Bob Shapiro)

By JOHN A. WINTERS john@newnan.com A southbound CSX train rolled into Newnan Thursday with flames shooting out of its second locomotive before finally stopping in downtown. Newnan Fire Department firefighters spent about 25 minutes spraying down the flames, which reached 25 feet or more into the air. Witnesses described the fire as a geyser shooting out the top of the engine.
There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to a CSX spokesman. The train came to a stop just south of the East Broad intersection and alongside the Caldwell Tanks building. That company was evacuated, as were a few residences across the tracks, authorities said. Newnan Police Department officials blocked off intersections leading to the train crossing as a precautionary measure. The shooting flames died down about 10:10 a.m., when power was finally shut down to the engine. According to Battalion Chief Stephen Brown with the Newnan Fire Department, for some reason the engineer could not shut down the engine. "He tried to use the emergency shutoff, but it wasn't working," Brown said, adding that engineers and firefighters started to pull electrical power, while also working on the shutoff switch, until the engine finally bogged down. Firefighters used a mixture of water and foam to contain the blaze. Brown said the engine's fuel tank held about 3,700 gallons of diesel fuel. "There's no telling how long that fire would have gone on," Brown added. Later Thursday morning, train cars were uncoupled and pulled apart and traffic was allowed to go through the East Broad Street intersection. The engineer stopped the train Thursday in Newnan after being notified of the problem on his radio, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease. It was unknown how long the locomotive had been on fire. Sease said the two-locomotive train was headed from Atlanta to Birmingham with 74 rail cars. The damaged locomotive was swapped out and the track cleared by the afternoon.


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