Officials investigate train derailment in Luther

Friday, August 22nd 2008, 3:50 pm
By: News 9

LUTHER, Okla. - Fire officials are still cleaning up after a train, carrying crude oil, derailed around 2:30 p.m. Friday in rural northeastern Oklahoma County.

Firefighters let the blaze burn itself out, but the fire didn't die out until shortly after sunrise Saturday morning.

Crews want to clean up the area by Monday morning so they can have the railway up and running again. Chief Brian Martin and his volunteer firefighters have been on scene for over 24 hours helping with the clean up.

"Our job has been mostly support. They're trying to cool the tanks off so they can get the liquid out and be able to move them," Chief Martin said.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe has hired crews to remove its rail cars that were knocked off the tracks during the derailment.  The state of Oklahoma owns the tracks and is already working on repairs.

Those who live in Luther were been allowed to return home and the chief is counting his blessings.

"Another couple of miles and it would have been in our downtown, so I couldn't have asked for any better situation under the circumstances," said Chief Martin.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, traveling southbound from Tulsa, derailed about near Covell and Dobbs roads north of Luther, said Joe Faust, the director of public  affairs for the Fort Worth, Texas-based railway.

Some of the cars that derailed were carrying crude oil, ethanol or had hydrochloric residue, Faust said.

The train's conductor and chief engineer were not injured. No other injuries were reported.

There were 110 railcars on the train. The railroad tracks near the site of the fire appeared to be bent and an oil pumpjack is located nearby. Explosions at the site sent large balls of fire into the air.

Several fire crews were on the scene Friday but could not get near the fire at first because of the danger, said Cecil Clay, Oklahoma City deputy fire chief.

Burlington Northern is investigating the cause of the accident.  The Federal Railroad Administration is conducting its own investigation.