Union Pacific begins to assess damage caused by derailment north of Fallon | NevadaAppeal.com
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Union Pacific begins to assess damage caused by derailment north of Fallon

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com

Crews from Union Pacific Railroad began arriving Wednesday night to assess the damage caused from a 48-car derailment approximately 22 miles north of Fallon.

The 51-car freight train pulled by three engines was heading north when the derailment occurred Wednesday afternoon. Law enforcement officers and the Fallon/Churchill Fire Department were dispatched to the scene at 3:40 p.m. The stretch of track parallels U.S. Highway 95.

Churchill County Sheriff Ben Trotter said no one was injured.

Because of concerns with a possible hazardous material (HAZMAT) spill, however, the Lovelock Highway was closed for two hours, Trotter said. Churchill County Sheriff deputies and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers remained at the scene until they received notification of no HAZMAT spill.

“We got a manifest and checked for cars that had HAZMAT and identified those,” said First Assistant Fire Chief Bill Lawry. “We checked the cars for integrity and leakage.”

He said the only leakage was coming from a car filled with wine.

Additionally, Lawry said three engines, a water tender, a HAZMAT vehicle and two command vehicles responded. As of late Wednesday night, two engines remained near derailed cars.

UP personnel from Sparks arrived at the scene ahead of other railroad personnel form Roseville, Calif. A director of railroad operations had reportedly arrived at the derailment.

An inspection/safety team from the Nevada Public Utilities Commission also arrived at the site to assess the situation. UP personnel walked the length of the derailment under the starry Nevada sky, shining their flashlights on the derailed cars, many of them piled on top of each other. Debris was scattered for about half a mile along the mushy alkali desert floor.

While UP workers began assessing damage on the closed line, Amtrak did not allow an eastbound passenger train to leave the Reno depot.

This is the first major incident to happen on the line near Fallon since June 24, 2011, when a big rig failed to stop at a railroad crossing near Interstate 80 at the Trinity exit and plowed into a westbound California Zephyr passenger train. Six people were killed including the driver of the tractor-trailer that was used for hauling ore.

The railroad line is a major artery between Chicago and San Francisco and follows the same route as the first Transcontinental Railroad.