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calendar   Wednesday - July 29, 2020

Fire On The Lake

Train Crash Burns, Collapses 108 Year Old RR Bridge In Tempe AZ

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The Salt River Union Pacific Rail Road Bridge was built in 1912 by the American Bridge Company of New York. It was built as a 7 section pin connected Pratt Through truss with wooden trestle extensions, but was later expanded to a 9 section Pratt. At some later point the bridge was significantly upgraded with massive H beam deck girders and rivet plates. This was a pretty tough bridge.


“A Scene From Hell”

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A huge fire is burning on a train on a bridge over Tempe Town Lake. The fire was pumping thick black smoke into the air. That smoke plume was visible for miles.

Union Pacific said as many as 10 train cars derailed at about 6:15 a.m. The south side of the bridge then collapsed and caught fire. A spokesman said its crew was not hurt but one person at the park was treated for smoke inhalation.

Union Pacific spokesman Tim McMahan, who said the train was en route to Phoenix from Tucson, explained that two of the three tanker cars on the ground under the bridge contained cyclohexanone. The third contained a rubber material.

“None are reported leaking, and no tank cars were involved in the fire,” he said. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cyclohexanone is a colorless oily liquid that is both flammable and an irritant. It’s mostly used for the production of nylon.

The cars that burned for hours were carrying lumber, some of which fell into the lake.

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Camille Kimball was riding her bike under the bridge just a moment before it collapsed. She said the noise of the train became deafening, and as she came off the bridge, she saw people with their phone cameras trained behind her.

“I turned around to look and got the fright of my life,” she said. “Now there’s fire pouring into the lake from the middle of the bridge. ... It looks like a scene from hell, truly. A scene from hell. ... The flames are intense and the sky is filled with black smoke.” She described the experience as “surreal.”

...

It’s not clear what caused the derailment and subsequent bridge collapse and fire, but according to Union Pacific’s website, the bridges are visually inspected every 30 days. McMahan said the bridge’s annual inspection was on July 9. Arizona’s Family is working on getting that report.



While in ancient times the Salt River flowed year round, but with the coming of agriculture it became little more than an arroyo, but was subject to rather intense seasonal floods. So much so that the previous 3 bridges in the same spot washed away, some of them just a few years after being built. ABC did a better job with this iteration, a giant dam made lake Rooselvelt upstream in 1991 slowed the river flowol, and many years later when Tempe dammed the Salt River to create their Town Park Lake [1999] reservoir, floods were finally controlled. Mostly.

It may be a scene from Hell, but it’s also a blessed miracle. The fire is on the bridge over the lake, so there is no chance of it spreading to the city. And while the tanker cars of cyclcohexane fell in the collapse, they did not leak and they did not burn. That would have been a major catastrophe, certainly poisoning the lake, probably emitting all kinds of toxic fumes, but such a sudden eruptive conflagration would have probably destroyed the heavy freight RR bridge that is only yards away from this single track train bridge.

I don’t know if the bridge can be rescued and repaired. Probably not. It’s probably cheaper to replace it with some great chunk of concrete.



PS - somebody better call Rosie O’D. This is now the 2nd time in history that fire has melted steel.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/29/2020 at 02:10 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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