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Train wreck investigation continuing

4/4/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The investigation of July's train accident in Hays is ongoing, and a report might not be issued until summer, at the earliest.

"Still moving the investigation," James Allen Southworth, investigator-in-charge with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Thursday.

Southworth said many NTSB investigations take 12 to 18 months.

"It would be really inappropriate for me, really anybody in the city, to say, 'This is what happened,' " Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown said Thursday.

The city of Hays has been reimbursed $39,000 by Union Pacific for costs incurred fighting the fire after a UP freight train crashed into a sitting train on a side track at the rail yard next to Eighth and Vine.

At approximately 1:25 a.m. July 16, a Union Pacific train with three locomotives and 79 cars was westbound from Salina to Denver when it left the main line and crashed into the rear of a sitting train on a side rail. Four cars from the sitting train and four cars sitting on an adjacent line -- which all were empty -- were derailed, as were 10 cars from the train which was diverted from the main line.

As diesel fuel spilled from the Denver-bound train, flames shot 30 to 40 feet in the air. At the rear of the train were 20 tankers carrying low-grade ethanol, which did not derail.

Firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading to those cars. They poured foam and 5,000 gallons of water per minute on the fire for an estimated five and a half hours.

"(Union Pacific) basically asked us to tally all of our expenses," Hays city manager Toby Dougherty said.

The city was reimbursed within two to three months of the accident, Dougherty said.

"Most of that goes back into the general fund," Dougherty said.