The train derailed across the Clark Fork River from Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort southeast of Plains; Montana Rail Link is looking into it. Butane, a liquefied petroleum gas, was being transported by rail when at least one car derailed at around 9 a.m.
On Sunday, MRL and the local fire department both affirmed that there had been no leak of toxic substances. Several boxcars worth of Coors Light and Blue Moon beer in cans and bottles were the only known spilled cargo, along with a small amount of powdered clay.
The derailment had no adverse effects on anyone’s health. There were no automobile fires. By 4 p.m. On Sunday, workers strung a boom across the river to catch any debris that might be floating down the current. A lot of beer was part of that.
Deputy Chief James Russell of the Plains-Paradise Rural Fire Department and MRL Director of Communications Andy Garland says that at least 20 cars of a westbound freight train derailed. From Highway 135, where police were attempting to prevent crowds from blocking the road around blind corners, roughly 18 derailed railcars could be seen.
There were several overturned boxcars, and four of them were partially submerged in the Clark Fork. Just to the east of the visible vehicles, inside a century-old tunnel, more derailed boxcars were discovered. When asked how long it would take to remove the derailed cars and fix the damaged section of the railroad, Garland answered, “I don’t know.”
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At the derailment site, the rails were still hung in the air over the river after the mud grade had partially collapsed into the water below. Although the train derailed on an MRL route, on Sunday it was still unclear if the derailed train belonged to MRL or to another railway that uses MRL’s network.
On Sunday afternoon, Garland stated at the derailment site, “We’re just kind of getting into the investigation piece.” Despite the derailment’s obvious location, he said, reaching it requires either driving down the river’s single obstructed railroad track or getting a boat over the river.
According to Russell, emergency crews were sent to the derailed train at 9:31 a.m. This was his first train derailment in 12 years with the department. He claimed eleven firemen arrived on the scene in six fire vehicles and rescue craft, including a raft and jet skis for swift-water rescues.
On Sunday, Whitewater Rescue Institute brought boats and rescuers to the scene. Russell stated that first responders checked the rail carriages to see if anything had leaked. He, Sanders County Dispatch, and MRL were able to independently verify the contents of each car using the train’s freight manifest, and then check their findings with each other.
Russell double checked the derailed tank vehicle transporting the highly flammable butane by using an air monitor and ocular inspection. He explained that the powdered clay was initially alarming because, when blown by the wind on Sunday morning, it looked like wisps of smoke. When we first arrived, he observed, “it looked ominous.”
Life safety is the top priority in an occupied place like Quinn’s, according to Russell. The MRL personnel in our area responded quickly and arrived. Right away, they dispatched men to the scene. Quinn’s general manager of 20 years, Denise Moreth, rushed to the resort on Sunday morning after hearing reports of a “loud, rumbling crash,” and she stayed until the day.
She revealed that initially, the resort’s 17 riverfront cabins were all evacuated by emergency personnel as a safety measure. For the following two days, only seven cabins will be evacuated. At least four or five trains, according to her estimation, travel through there every day.
For all her time at Quinn’s, she claimed this was the first time a train had ever derailed. She mentioned that “one guest slept through it.”
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