Fire crews successfully extinguished a fire on a burning locomotive early this morning in Antelope.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews were called at 3:30 a.m. to Antelope and Roseville roads where a locomotive train engine was on fire.
Crews were immediately faced with three concerns: putting out the fire, stopping its spread to a nearby train car containing a substance initially unknown to firefighters and preventing a spill of hazardous waste into the soil.
Firefighters determined that the train car on an adjacent track next to burning train engine contained 200,000 pounds of potassium sulfate. Fortunately, the material, used in fertilizer, was not flammable.
At the same time, crews were aware that the locomotive tanks can carry up to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel. If the tanks were breached, then the runoff could pose an environmental hazard, said SacMetro Capt. Kim Fong.
Crews succeeded in using an emergency fuel shutoff on the engine to eliminate any potential problem with the diesel. The procedure also limited a fuel supply to the flames.
Fire crews poured water on the engine to quell the blaze.
Cause of the fire is under investigation. Union Pacific is trying to find out what caused the engine to catch fire, Fong said.
"This is similar to a much larger car fire," said Fong. "Cutting off the fuel is step number one. Anytime you have a fire that can be potentially fueled with 4,000 gallons of diesel, you will be out there for an inordinate amount of time if you don't cut that fuel supply off. Number two is to utilize water to put it out."
No runoff occurred.
"They did a fantastic job," said Capt. Fong. "It had the potential to turn into something much larger."
A propane tanker rail car fire in 2011 in Lincoln resulted in the evacuation of approximately 4,800 homes in the city for two days.