By Leigh Armstrong

An oil leak in a train engine caught fire on Monday but had extinguished itself by the time Skagway firefighters arrived.

The train was carrying passengers  but the small fire never escaped the engine and there were no injuries. The incident occurred about five miles out of Skagway,  said Tyler Rose, executive director of human resources and strategic planning at the White Pass & Yukon Route. 

The locomotive engine compartment caught fire just south of the bridge by Denver, Skagway Fire Chief Joe Rau said. “The best way to describe it would be an oil leak in the engine room.”

The call for assistance came in around 12:30 p.m.

Rau and six firefighters went to the WP&YR train yard, where a train with a large water tank and a flatbed was waiting to take them to the burning engine. But when the firefighters arrived at the scene, the flames had already extinguished themselves.  

Service to the engine was restored and the locomotive is under inspection and repair, Rose said. Passengers on the train were taken back to town and offered ride on a later train.

Engine fires aren’t common, but may happen once every season or so, Rose said. The forested area and dryness of the season made the call a greater concern. 

“The risk would have been had it extended into the forest,” Rau said. 

Alaska and the surrounding areas in Canada have faced severe burn conditions and risk for forest fires since the beginning of July.  While no fires have broken out in Skagway, smoke from fires in the Yukon has covered parts of town.