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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF feels heat of wildfires in northwestern Montana


BNSF Railway Co. reported to its customers yesterday that it is experiencing an operational impact due to a track outage caused by wildfires in Essex, Mont.

The Class I informed customers in an Aug. 31 service advisory that the railroad's main track though the area was open, but fires continue to burn, which may cause intermittent track closures.

In an Aug. 28 service advisory, BNSF said wildfires in northwestern Montana affected normal train operations through the area, which was evacuated due to the looming danger of the Sheep Fire. The fire had been advancing along BNSF's Hi-Line Subdivision and came within 200 yards of its mainline. As a result, the railroad suspended traffic that night, according to the advisory.

BNSF crews worked with the local incident commander and other fire officials to support the firefighting effort, and applied 18,000 gallons of water and about 80 gallons of foam to a one-mile span along the track to slow the fire's advance and mitigate property damage, the advisory said.

Meanwhile, local news media reported that BNSF trains were being used to help shuttle fire crews and equipment to help fight the Sheep Fire near the southern edge of Glacier National Park. Each BNSF train can deliver three 20-person crews to the fire line, according to the Daily Inter Lake newspaper.

The northwestern Montana fire also has affected Amtrak passenger trains, which were not being allowed into the area on Aug. 28, according to local news media reports.