CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Cheyenne Fire Rescue and other first responder groups prevented a full on railcar fire Saturday, June 3, when lithium-ion batteries began heating up.
Firefighters were dispatched to a railcar at 6:30 a.m. that was emitting smoke, according to a CFR press release. When they arrived, they found a smoking semitrailer loaded on a flatbed railcar that was located about 16 railcars from the end of the west-facing train on the middle track.
CFR personnel and their partners in the Laramie County Combined Communication Center, with the assistance from Union Pacific, shut down the remaining active tracks and identified that the trailer was potentially carrying lithium-ion batteries, the release states.
The railcar was in the Laramie County Fire Authority’s response area, and they were dispatched as well, along with Laramie County Fire District No. 1, the release states. The State of Wyoming Regional Response Hazardous Materials Team 7 was also placed on standby. The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office shut down Campstool Road to keep firefighters safe.
Crews quickly established a water supply and cooled the contents of the trailer from the exterior
while working to gain better access to the interior, the release states. Firefighters began air monitoring to guarantee environmental conditions were not expanding from beyond the location and affecting the
surrounding businesses in the area.
Employees from Union Pacific were eventually able to uncouple the adjacent railcars to make operations safer and more efficient for CFR personnel. The trailer was accessed from the side using power saws and hand tools and firefighters were able to apply enough water to cool the reacting batteries, the release states.
“It’s always great to see our crews work safely and efficiently on more complex scenes such as this,” CFR Deputy Chief Andrew Dykshorn said. “When these types of reactions begin with Lithium-Ion batteries, it is often hard to stop them from turning into a major fire, but everyone did a great job to keep that from occurring today.”
Per the release, Union Pacific and the transportation company that owns the semitrailer will continue their investigation into the cause of the incident.