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Monday, May 2, 2016


Monday, December 9, 2002

Train fire leads to evacuations

Saturday night proved to be a tense time for some northern Clay County residents.

The second engine of a CSX train caught fire about 9:45 p.m. The engineer of the train stopped the engines about a hundred yards from the crossing on Harmony road, and began notifying nearby residents.

By the time fire and sheriff's department personnel arrived, flames were shooting 10 to 15 feet in the air.

"At the time our other deputy arrived at the scene, the engineer was running away from the engine saying, 'it's going to blow up,'" Rob Gambill, Clay County deputy reported.

"Each engine carries about 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel, so we were very worried and we were making sure nobody was in danger."

Residents were evacuated from the immediate area. They were allowed back in their homes about 11 p.m.

Jodi Lutz, firefighter for Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department said that the temperature of water on the engine was at 200 degrees at 11 p.m. It was not known what the temperature of the diesel fuel was at that time, however, the fire department remained at the scene for several hours.

Officials from CSX were called in from Indianapolis to assess the situation.

"The engineer reported that there was a railroad car that either had paint thinner in it or it had previously carried paint thinner," Gambill said. It was determined that the car was about a mile from the problem engine.

The train consisted of 135 cars and the two engines. Over the weekend the train continued on its way to St. Louis.

Eaglin home destroyed in Sunday trailer fire

A fire of unknown origin left a Clay County family out in the cold Sunday night about 6:30 p.m.

The fire, that destroyed the mobile home of Earl and Florence Eaglin in Van Buren Township, was also responsible for destroying a camper trailer and a pickup.

"We didn't have any insurance. We tried to get it, but we were told (the mobile home) was too old. It was a 1969 model," said Earl.

Thanks to a motorist driving by the residence, the call was made to get the fire department on the way. The driver reported that the camper trailer was on fire. By the time the fire department arrived, the camper trailer was fully engulfed in fire and the truck was also on ablaze. The fire had also began threatening the mobile home.

The quick response of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department prevented the fire from totally engulfing the mobile home, according to Earl.

"As far as I knew, there was no electricity to the camper trailer," Earl said. "But there was electrical lines on the ground near a pump house."

Nobody was home when the fire started. The Eaglins had gone to a relative's house just up the road and had been gone about 30 minutes.

"We are still investigating the fire," said Pete Taylor, chief of the volunteer fire department. "There are still several hot spots and we are watching those very carefully."

"Thirty minutes can make a big difference in a fire," Earl said, surveying the damage caused by the fire.

The American Red Cross was notified and were making arrangements to put the family up in a local motel.

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