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Bend Fire crews stop locomotive blaze on tracks south of Bend

Bend firefighters BNSF locomotive fire Dan Derlacki 119
Dan Derlacki/Bend Fire & Rescue
Bend Fire crew pours water on smoking BNSF locomotive south of Bend
BNSF train locomotive fire Jeff Thompson 119-1
Jeff Thompson
Smoke rises as Bend Fire crews work to extinguish blaze in lead locomotive of BNSF Railway freight train south of town Wednesday
BNSF train locomotive fire Kurtis Cook ODOT
Kurtis Cook; ODOT
Smoke rises from fire on BNSF locomotive south of Bend late Wednesday morning as Bend Fire, first responders gather on nearby Highway 97 near Lava Butte
Bend Fire crews on 97 near train fire Noah 119
Noah Chast/KTVZ
A lane of Highway 97 was closed for Bend Fire crews on scene of locomotive fire Wednesday

(Update: Adding video, more details on fire from deputy fire marshal)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A fire broke out late Wednesday morning in the front locomotive of a BNSF Railway freight train south of Bend, bringing Bend Fire crews to the scene to douse the blaze. All crew were off the train safely and no injuries were reported.

Bend Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched just before 11:30 a.m. to the reported fire in the first engine of a northbound train that had stopped west of milepost 145 on Highway 97, near Lava Butte.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the fire broke out four miles south of Bend in the lead locomotive of a northbound 40-car freight train heading from Klamath Falls to Bend, loaded with general freight merchandise, such as asphalt and lumber products.

The two-person crew immediately stopped the train and got off, with first responders on site quickly, as well as BNSF mechanical personnel inspecting both the track and train, Melonas said. The line was shut down, he said, and there were no reports of derailment.

Initial, reports from the scene indicated smoke and flames were coming from the top of the front locomotive, which had been shut down. The fire was out within an hour.

Melonas said in the late afternoon they had isolated the lead locomotive and were moving it to a nearby siding, for personnel to make the necessary adjustments. He said the tracks would reopen by evening.

Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said the fire broke out in an upper compartment of the locomotive, just behind the engineer's cab.

“They were able to stop, get it away from any areas that would be threatening homes,” Derlacki said.

The power supply for the train's braking system is located in that area, but Derlacki said none of the fuel lines for the engine's nearly 4,700 galls onf diesel were involved in the fire, which ws stopped before it could spread any further in the train or the exterior.

“The fire happened in one of the electrical compartments,” Derlacki said. “It did not involve any of the diesel or fuel for the locomotive, and no train cars nearby were considered hazardous material so there was no release into the area."

Derlacki said the train was a standard locomotive carrying lumber, tar for asphalt and other materials traveling from Klamath Falls to Bend.

“None of that was threatened by this fire, the fire is kept in that engine compartment in the electrical area,’ Derlacki said.

Fire crews were able to stop the flames, but had to wait for the locomotive engineer from Klamath falls to show up before doing anything else.

“This is a high-energy compartment, so we need to have the railroad company and their mechanics on scene before we go and open this up,” Derlacki said. 

The emergency exit gates for Deschutes River Woods was opened for a brief time for fire crews to reach the scene, Derlacki said, adding that the train stopped by the fire did not block any roads or crossings.

BNSF is working to determine the fire's exact cause, he said, but it "appeared to be mechanical or electrical failure in the locomotive."

A lane of southbound Highway 97 was blocked for Bend Fire crews working on the scene.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.



  1. It’s a bit surprising that trains do not have at least some fire-fighting equipment. Sometimes they are in locations hours from the nearest fire department, and help would be a long time coming. They must have water tanks; why not hoses and pumps that they could hook up? Must be issues that I am not aware of .

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