Ember causes brush fire in Abilene

Published 11:15 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

By Ron Card

Special to The Charlotte Gazette

An apparent burning ember spewed by a passing Norfolk Southern coal train started a small, but fast-burning brush fire at about approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday along the tracks in Abilene.

There was no direct access to the scene of the fire, and fortunately a homeowner who lives on Penny Lane, off Abilene Road, had just arrived home and reported the fire to the authorities, who voluntarily provided the only access to the fire along the backside of his property which adjoins the tracks.

The Cullen Volunteer Fire Department was the first on the scene, but unfortunately the hose was not long enough to reach the fire. The Darlington Heights Volunteer Fire Department was then alerted and sent equipment to assist.

The fire was located between the two close-together railroad tracks just east of Abilene Road and was quickly contained and extinguished by the responding fire departments. Also present on the scene was the Forestry Department and Norfolk Southern rail equipment.

A Norfolk Southern employee at the scene reported that train-caused fires are not uncommon, especially when a train runs over tree brush on the tracks which are in turn heated up and ignited by the friction generated by the wheels.