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Railroad Ties On Fire Spark Grass Fire On Evaro Hill

photo by Mel Holtz
Frenchtown Fire

Frenchtown Fire, along with several other agencies, responded late Tuesday afternoon to a grass fire on Evaro Hill.

Spokesman Mel Holtz said the grass fire was sparked by over 100 railroad ties that had caught fire.

“Several apparatus responded and we could see a column of thick smoke from what we thought were railroad ties on fire,” Holtz said. “Once we got up there we found a large pile of about 100 railroad ties that had caught fire, and then the winds picked up and it quickly carried over into that dry grass and it ended up taking off.”

Holtz said additional resources arrived to help battle the fast-moving grass fire.

“We got a state helicopter who performed some bucket drops, as well as DNRC  and Forest Service engines,” he said. “We were able to quickly attack that fire and get it contained within five acres and crews called in heavy machinery to work on the hot spots as well as pull apart those railroad ties and make sure they were completely out.”

Holtz said water cars attached to an MRL grinder train also assisted in putting out the fires.

Montana Rail Link provided this statement regarding the use of ‘grinder trains’.

Rail grinding is an important component of our maintenance program.

Due to elevated fire danger, MRL has made the decision to significantly decrease the grinding schedule across our network for the remainder of the summer from an estimated 30 days of activity down to 9 days.   In addition, we will be presoaking the work area with additional water when grinding is occurring. Rail grinding will resume later this year when fire danger subsides.

Holtz said one home under construction was threatened, but firefighters were able to keep the blaze from damaging the property. Holtz said no one was injured in the incident.

(Thanks to Mel Holtz for shooting the videos attached to this report.)

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