By TOBEY SCHMIDT
On its way north toward the summit, Locomotive No. 43 experienced a fire on Thursday, July 6, around 1:58 p.m. The incident, which was the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad’s second locomotive fire this year, occurred near Mile 15 just past Glacier Station.
“The engineer detected some combustion in the engine compartment and at that time stopped the train and began to subdue the burgeoning flames from there,” said Tyler Rose, executive director of human resources and strategic planning for White Pass.
Rose said that as it became apparent the fire would require more substantial effort to subdue, the train crew separated the train from the locomotive and traveled southbound under the power of the trail locomotive, as the fire was contained and extinguished. The fire was put out, but they decided to send all the trains back into town for safety.
The Skagway Fire Department was sent up to the location to help contain and extinguish the fire.
Before this incident, there was a smaller fire on a different locomotive than the recent one on No. 43. Rose said that it’s not typical to have multiple fires in the same year.
“It’s quite unusual,” Rose said. “It’s really rare.”
There’s no current explanation as to why there has been two fires in such close temporal proximity, but Rose said that they’re investigating the second fire and should know soon.
“At no point were any of the passengers in any type of danger,” Rose said. “Our protocols were followed well, we were able to keep everything safe, despite the occurrence.”