Around 6:30 Saturday morning, Cheyenne Fire Rescue was dispatched to a railcar that was emitting smoke. Upon arrival just east of the original dispatched address a semi-trailer loaded on a flatbed railcar had moderate smoke coming from the interior of the trailer. The railcar was located approximately 16 railcars from the end of the westbound facing train on the middle track.
CFR personnel and its partners in the Laramie County Combined Communication Center with the assistance from Union Pacific shut down the remaining active tracks and identified that the trailer was potentially carrying Lithium-Ion Batteries. The railcar’s location was found to be in Laramie County Fire Authority’s response area, and they were dispatched as well, along with Laramie County Fire District #1. The State of Wyoming Regional Response Hazardous Materials Team 7 was also placed on standby. The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office was able to shut down Campstool Rd. to keep our firefighters safe.
Crews quickly established a water supply and cooled the contents of the trailer from the exterior while working to gain better access to the interior. Firefighters began air monitoring to guarantee environmental conditions were not expanding from beyond the location and affecting the surrounding businesses in the area. Employees from Union Pacific were eventually able to uncouple the adjacent railcars to make operations safer and more efficient for CFR personnel.
The trailer was eventually accessed from the side using power saws and hand tools and firefighters were able to apply enough water to cool the reacting batteries.
Deputy Chief Dykshorn states “it’s always great to see our crews work safely and efficiently on more complex scenes such as this. When these types of reactions begin with Lithium-Ion batteries, it is often hard to stop them from turning into a major fire, but everyone did a great job to keep that from occurring today.”
CFR wishes to thank all public safety agencies and Union Pacific for their assistance and coordinated efforts on scene. Union Pacific and the transportation company that owns the semi-trailer will continue their investigation as to the cause of the incident.