Trains back on track through Tontogany PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 11:19
Train axels sit in a pile near the Washington Township fire station in Tontogany. Crews continues to clean up after officials said 19 cars of the 62-car CSX locomotive were derailed Monday night. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
TONTOGANY - Trains are moving again through the village following a 19-car derailment late Monday that caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to two buildings.
"Our first train went through last night at 10:29," said Washington Township Fire Chief Todd Buehrer this morning.
The derailment occurred at 9:40 p.m. near Main Street in the village. Nineteen cars of the 62-car train left the tracks, shearing off at least two trees and striking the township maintenance building and fire hall. No injuries were reported.
Of the cars that derailed, 18 were empty and one contained scrap steel.
One person who lived nearby characterized the sound as being "like a tornado coming through."
Buehrer himself heard the crash.
"Just sounded like a bunch of banging," he said. "It was over in about 20 seconds."
On Tuesday, CSX crews and others were on-scene moving the derailed cars, and repairing power lines and track.
Buehrer indicated "all the equipment that they removed the stuff with is gone. All the rail cars and wheels, they just moved that stuff out of the way. Their first priority is getting trains running again."
Much of the remaining work, said Buehrer, involves the installation of lights and gates at the crossings to replace those that were knocked over during the derailment.
Currently, temporary signals are in place and Wood County Sheriff's deputies have been posted in the area to stand and ensure that cars don't cross when trains come through.
The investigation into the cause of the derailment is expected to take weeks. Carla Groleau, CSX spokesperson, said that among the factors to be taken into account will be the speed of the train - one man living nearby said it sounded to him that the train was traveling faster than usual. That has not been confirmed by CSX.
The bathroom area of the fire hall, which suffered what appeared to be a buckled wall and significant corner damage, will have to be rebuilt, said Buehrer. Those costs are estimated at $50,000. An equal amount is expected for the replacement of a damaged wall in the maintenance building.
"Minor damage," Buehrer said of the buildings. "We'll get her fixed. The building was the least of our issues. We were pretty fortunate. As derailments go, this was pretty minor."
Buehrer also had praise for the CSX workers.
"They've all been great," he said, "taking care of anything we need or helping us with anything we need to get taken care of."
"Sounds like they're back on track," said Wood County Emergency Management Director Brad Gilbert this morning.
"I'm sure they've got several more days of cleanup" and handling smaller issues. Gilbert said his agency went to the scene to "make sure the fire department didn't need any additional resources."
The derailment was a topic of discussing in nearby Haskins Tuesday night.
Mayor Paul Gies, at Tuesday's village council meeting, noted the train could possibly have come through the village.
"We're pretty fortunate that didn't happen in Haskins because it's the same rail line," he told council.
Gies said it has been several years since the village's last tabletop exercise to test disaster procedures, and asked Police Chief Colby Carroll and the village Public Safety Committee to work towards scheduling a new exercise.
"It's definitely a good experience for everybody to get hands-on experience with how we'd handle a disaster," he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 11:29

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