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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

California wildfires wipe out BNSF workers' homes, idle trains


Wildfires sweeping across parts of southern California are wreaking havoc for local homeowners, including Burlington Northern Santa Fe workers. At least three BNSF employees have lost all or part of their homes, and others have been evacuated or had trouble reporting to work, according to a prepared statement.

BNSF has established a toll-free number to enable employees to report damaged property, homes, an injury or evacuation.

"The smoke and debris falling around my home is very bad — we are 10 miles away from the nearest fire," said Lena Kent, BNSF regional director of public affairs and a Riverside, Calif., resident "BNSF is working with the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Forestry to ensure safe transportation of our trains and people."

The Class I's train operations have been impacted, too. On Oct. 26, trains moving into and out of southern California were suspended for several hours. High winds, fires and reduced visibility are expected to continue for several days, which likely will slow or halt train operations in the region.

The firestorm has spread across more than 330,000 acres in four counties and destroyed about 850 homes — the worst fires to strike the region in more than a decade.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/28/2003