1 track on K&I reopens after fire, cause under investigation - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

1 track on K&I Bridge reopens after fire, cause still under investigation

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The first train crosses the K&I Bridge after the June 30 fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News) The first train crosses the K&I Bridge after the June 30 fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – One of two railroad tracks on the K&I Bridge has reopened following a fire in a railroad car the night before.

The train involved was going from Atlanta to Kansas City. Robin Chapman, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, said crews replaced 80 ties that were damaged from the fire. Chapman also said 16 trains are being held until the line opens.

[SLIDESHOW: Train cars catch fire on K&I Bridge]

Fire crews remained near the K&I Bridge overnight putting out hotspots. Around 6:05 p.m. June 30, Louisville firefighters said two train cars caught fire after flames began in the railroad ties. The flames raged for hours on the bridge between New Albany and Louisville. At least 100 firefighters from Louisville and New Albany worked to battle the fire. Three New Albany firefighters were recovering from heat-related illnesses.

After trying to extinguish the flames using fire boats in the Ohio River and hoses carried out to the bridge deck, crews broke the train around 8:30 p.m. and got the flaming cars off the bridge.

"It was amazing to see them pull the train off," said Janice Sidebottom, who watched the action from the New Albany side. "The only reason we knew it was going to happen was we heard a firefighter say, 'We have to get the car off the bridge.'"

The fire damaged rail trestles, but fire officials said there should be no structural damage to the bridge.

According to fire officials, Norfolk Southern, the bridge's owner, had been doing work on the bridge deck in the past couple days, but the cause of the fire was under investigation. Chapman said that work was for maintenance and was not being done in the area where the fire broke out.

Firefighters said bags of tea in one rail car provided kindling for the fire. A Norfolk Southern spokesperson previously said that rail car was carrying food items and that the contents that caught fire we not considered to be hazardous.

River and rail traffic was shut down for hours around the bridge.

"They took the fight to the fire wherever it was," said New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, when asked whether there was a proper contingency plan for fires on the K&I Bridge. "I think they've done a great job."

Norfolk Southern also has a team of investigators looking into the cause. 

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