Firefighters extinguish blaze on rail bridge over Ohio River

Monday, August 20, 2007

PADUCAH, Ky. -- A fire on a railroad bridge that connects Illinois to Kentucky left firefighters with a conundrum.

Surrounded by the Ohio River, the rescuers couldn't get enough water to the 50 flaming crossties on a bridge near Harrah's Metropolis Casino that connects Paducah and Metropolis, Ill.

To extinguish the Saturday blaze, firefighters from McCracken in Kentucky and Concord in Illinois strapped five-gallon water tanks to their backs and shuttled to the fire aboard a Canadian National vehicle modified to run on railroad tracks, McCracken fire chief Donald Elrod said

"It is difficult to get any resources over the river," Elrod said.

The five-gallon tanks emptied quickly, forcing firefighters to make numerous trips back to the staging area for refills. Firefighters also were equipped with extinguishers that shot flame-smothering foam.

Concord chief Bob McGowan, who coordinated the staging area, said the foam helped the backpacks' limited water supply last longer.

"The firefighters would knock down the flames and when they'd run out of water, the fire would kick back up," McGowan said.

Metropolis firefighters used a pressure washer attached to a tanker truck, Elrod said.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined, but authorities say a spark from a coal train may have ignited some crossties.

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