Monday, September 30, 2013 at 12:25 p.m. the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) responded to a report of a fire on the railroad tracks that run alongside the levee in the 7100 block of Hayne Blvd. in New Orleans East. The first NOFD company arrived on the scene at 12:31 p.m. and found railroad cross-ties (the wooden members that connect the tracks) burning sporadically up and down the tracks. The small fires spanned an approximately 4 mile stretch of track beginning near the corner of Hayne Blvd. at Read Blvd. and ending near Robert E. Lee Blvd. and Peoples St. Twenty-one NOFD units carrying seventy suppression personnel were used to put out these fires. Firefighters positioned along this stretch walked several blocks of track with hoses extinguishing the cross-ties. It was determined that the fires had been accidentally started by railroad crews performing maintenance operations along the tracks. A representative from the maintenance crew expressed their apologies, stating they would make sure incidents like these didn’t’ occur in the future. The water tanker that normally follows the crews as they’re “grinding the track” had left to refill when the fires occurred.
The incident was placed under control at 1:46 p.m. after it was determined that it was highly unlikely that the fires would extend beyond the tracks. Even so, NOFD firefighters remained on the scene making sure every cross-tie was extinguished and the fires hadn’t extended into grass or wooded areas along the tracks.
1st alarm: 12:25 pm
On scene: 12:31 pm
2nd alarm: 12:32 pm
3rd alarm: 12:57 pm
Under control: 1:46 pm
Injuries: None reported
Cause: Accidental, Track Maintenance