Fire Fighting in Canada

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Train jumps track as Calgary river overflows

June 27, 2013, Calgary – The City of Calgary says a train has derailed on a bridge over the swollen Bow River and five tanker cars carrying a petroleum product are slowly sinking into the water.

June 27, 2013
By The Canadian Press

June 27, 2013, Calgary – The City of Calgary says a train has derailed on a bridge over the swollen Bow River and five tanker cars carrying a petroleum product are slowly sinking into the water.

Emergency management director Bruce Burrell says the cars are not leaking but the bridge is failing and slowly sagging into the river.

"The bridge is continuing to drop as we speak so that distance between the failure point and where the bridge decking is, is starting to open up more," he said. "So it appears that the bridge is failing."

Acting fire chief Ken Uzelok said the bridge dropped about two-thirds of a metre in less than two hours Thursday morning.

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Burrell says it's possible the cars are carrying diesel fuel, but he couldn't confirm that.

"The product involved is a petroleum-based product. It could be diesel or something similar to diesel."

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said the train was eastbound when it left the tracks.

"They are all upright," he said. "There are no leaks reported and no injuries reported as a result of the incident."

The immediate area around the derailment has been evacuated. It's primarily an industrial area and there is a large railyard nearby.

The city believes there are 10 cars in total on the bridge. Five are on the damaged section.

Officials are making a plan to get the cars off.

The cars that are sinking into the river are near the back of the train. Emergency crews are looking at separating the train and pulling the other cars away from both ends.

"We have an engine at the front of the train and an engine at the rear of the train," Uzelok said. "They're both well on solid ground and the train crew is evacuated. We will be using them if we decide to disconnect at each end and pull the trains from each end to limit the cars, but they will not be in danger."

Both the Bow and Elbow rivers burst their banks within the city when heavy rain pounded southern regions of Alberta last week.

Police have not said, however, if flooding was responsible for the structural failure.

Dozens of police vehicles and fire trucks are on the scene.

Major roads in the area, including the Deerfoot Trail expressway, are closed. Uzelok said the reason for that is obvious.

"Each car could have about 80,000 pounds of product in that car and they're all flammable liquids so if something does go wrong we could have a very big pile of burning material and also then you have the smoke and the combustibles in the air that come off that," he said.

"I don't want people driving through thick black smoke clouds on Deerfoot Trail that could have the potential of causing other accidents."

Uzelok said the derailment is further stretching emergency crews who have been working flat out for a week dealing with the flooding.

"If I was at the emergency management college taking the training and the course I would expect this because this is what usually happens … one on top of another," he said. "Not really expecting it in real life, so it's going to be adding on to a lot of responders who have already been working long hours."