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Blue Island rail bridge to reopen after fire

Firefighters clean up after battling fire trabridge north Broadway Vine streets Blue IslTuesday May 6 2014.| Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

Firefighters clean up after battling a fire on a train bridge north of Broadway and Vine streets in Blue Island on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.| Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Investigators have ruled out arson as the cause of a fire that closed two train tracks spanning the Calumet Sag Channel in Blue Island, and the tracks should soon be open to freight train traffic.

Blue Island Fire Chief Mark Luety said that the state fire marshal, who was with Luety at the scene Wednesday, thinks “accidental ignition” may have started Tuesday’s fire.

“At this time, it is still under investigation. Through the state fire marshal’s office, the fire does not appear to be criminal at this time, yet we can’t rule out accidental ignition,” Luety said.

Meanwhile, CSX crews were busy Wednesday replacing all the wooden ties damaged by the fire, along with 380 feet of track that had buckled in the intense heat, Luety said.

“They found no structural damage to the bridge and they are hoping to open the bridge to train traffic later (Wednesday) evening,” Luety said.

Accidental ignition “happens at times,” he said

“It can’t be ruled out. A brake will hang up on a chain, the steel heats up, a piece breaks off. That’s molten steel. If it lands on a wooden tie, it’s going to smolder and it can start a fire,” the fire chief said.

He noted that the thick wooden ties are coated with an oil-based product called creosote which promotes longevity. Add some grease or oil falling from train cars, along with molten steel from a brake with Tuesday’s strong winds, and the ingredients are present to start a fire, Luety said.



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