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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
tweetsie12 wrote:
Hey, now here's something no one else has brought up: Why not just use torrified biomass as a fuel? I believe the Coalition For Sustainable Rail Project is working on that kind of fuel, and it burns just the same as coal. Not to mention that it has none of the side effects. It could save the D&S millions of dollars from converting the locomotives to oil. (And yes, I already told Al Harper about this.) But to get more serious for a second, something about this entire case doesn't line up. I believe it might of been an Arson, due to the lack of sufficient evidence against the railroad, and for the fact that the D&S has already taken measures to prevent fires.



That's an interesting proposition. Of course, the industry would have to see some solid cost estimates to determine where it might be a suitable substitute. I don't see anything that addresses the cost of setting up a biomass fuel plant or the estimated cost per ton.

As for the 416 fire, all I can say is that the United States Attorney's Office would not have filed suit if they didn't think that they have a good chance at winning. I can see the property owners maybe taking a chance but not the USAO. What makes you think it was an arson?

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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 491
Legal wise... didn’t the forest service themselves allow the steam train to run that day? So wouldn’t they have to prove the D&S was being negligent?

Because the forest service has asked D&S not to run in dry conditions in the past correct?

I mean the damage has been done either way to a point, I’m just wondering how that affects the possible outcome of the case.


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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Legal wise... didn’t the forest service themselves allow the steam train to run that day? So wouldn’t they have to prove the D&S was being negligent?

Because the forest service has asked D&S not to run in dry conditions in the past correct?

I mean the damage has been done either way to a point, I’m just wondering how that affects the possible outcome of the case.


Even if the Forest Service did permit the railroad to operate that day, the railroad also has a legal responsibility to determine whether the conditions are safe as well. All the plaintiffs are required to prove is that the locomotive caused the fire. If the locomotive caused the fire, the railroad is liable for any costs incurred by the government to extinguish the fire. Final responsibility always rests with the operator.

The thing is, that in a civil case, the burden of proof is preponderance of evidence-not absolute proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The government can argue that the fact that the locomotive set the fire is proof that the D&S was negligent. Given that the case will be tried in Colorado and any jury (if drawn) will be from that area, that might not be a hard argument for the government to make.

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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:31 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1431
I believe it could have been arson. There seems to be a number of people writing letters to the editor of the Durango Herald that are bitterly opposed to D&S, and would like to see their entire operation cease to exist. That is a decent motive for setting a fire to bring about a lawsuit that could result in D&S going out of business.

I would think that as long as the Forest Service cannot rule out arson, the circumstantial evidence citing that D&S trains have started fires in the past and the fact that this fire started near their tracks would not be enough to prove that they started this fire.

I have yet to hear of any solid evidence from the Forest Service that shows that a D&S locomotive started the fire. They have mentioned finding ashes or burnt material long the D&S track near where the fire started. However, we already know the fire started somewhere near the tracks, perhaps within the range of a thrown spark. But this is also the exact type of location that an arsonist would use if they were igniting a fire that they wanted to see blamed on the D&S.


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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:07 pm 

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Another fire broke out right after the passage of a D&S train, which seems to have raised a few eyebrows and interesting viewpoints. Of particular interest is the transient van which was observed emptying the ash tray. I have not unpacked this entire article yet, but it looks interesting on many levels. One is the apparent increasing fire danger. Another is the lack of a pop car trailing the train. Then there is the cancelation of the helicopter contract.


https://durangoherald.com/articles/2904 ... -passed-by


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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:22 pm 

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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Basically it's a story about nothing. Fire officials said that because it was a small fire and no structures were burned, they will not be wasting their time investigating the source.

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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:58 pm 

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Location: Strasburg, PA
I noticed that the story neglected the fact that the train was loafing downgrade into town at the time, and that steam locomotives don't throw cinders when they aren't working hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:15 pm
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Jerry Day (the photographer) was at the spot when the train passed by. They discussed this on the NGDF.

http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php ... msg-376138


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 Post subject: Re: Feds sue Durango and Silverton over 416 fire
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:11 am 

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While the fire was not of any consequences in terms of property damage, many elements of the story parallel the circumstances that are said to have caused the 416 fire. As such, they will serve to shape and reinforce public opinion which may play a role in charging D&S for the 416 fire.

In my opinion, this new story is more about the Durango Herald than it is about the fire. The article clearly leaves the impression that it is almost certain that a D&S train started this fire. For instance, they say this:

“”Milt Hunsaker, a Durango resident who witnessed the blaze, said two tourists taking pictures of the D&SNG were the first to spot the fire as the train passed. He and others quickly notified authorities.

“It literally started within a second of the engine going by,” Hunsaker said. “It was just like, ‘poof,’ and it took off.””

On the NGDF site, it seems that one of those two tourists was Jerry Day who reports there that the train had come and gone before the fire started.

The article also says this: “Dick Waltz, an attorney representing the D&SNG, wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon that the cause of the fire had not been determined and added “that a transient van was observed leaving the area after dumping their cigarette butts.”

Neither witnesses nor fire officials interviewed for this story noted the presence of a van dumping cigarette butts in the area.”

Jerry Day said: “The local FOX radio station in Durango reported tonight that the fire was started by an RV owner dumping cigarette ashes. I saw an RV when I was there Monday.”


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 Post subject: U.S. judge says Durango & Silverton knew fire risks
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:44 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
There was a new article posted on RT&S :
https://www.rtands.com/railroad-news/u-s-judge-says-durango-silverton-knew-fire-risks-of-coal-powered-locomotives-before-416-fire/


Quote:
U.S. judge says Durango & Silverton knew fire risks of coal-powered locomotives before 416 Fire


Quote:
U.S. Judge N. Reid Neureiter filed a scheduling order on Sept. 17, and now says Durango & Silverton conductors noted fires caused by their locomotives in daily reports in the Spring 2018. Neureiter says according to the reports there were four dozen fires leading up to the 416, some which grew to 150 ft to 200 ft. Neureiter believes Durango & Silverton was aware of the risk leading up to the 416 Fire and also was aware they were operating in increasingly severe drought conditions.

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 Post subject: Re: U.S. judge says Durango & Silverton knew fire risks
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:59 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1431
Quote:
U.S. Judge N. Reid Neureiter filed a scheduling order on Sept. 17, and now says Durango & Silverton conductors noted fires caused by their locomotives in daily reports in the Spring 2018. Neureiter says according to the reports there were four dozen fires leading up to the 416, some which grew to 150 ft to 200 ft. Neureiter believes Durango & Silverton was aware of the risk leading up to the 416 Fire and also was aware they were operating in increasingly severe drought conditions.
[/quote]

The judge seems to imply that D&S claims they were not aware of the fire risk while the record of fires proves that they must have been aware of it. Since D&S reported and perhaps extinguished these 48 fires in the course of just a couple months, it seems to me that they had to have been aware of the fire risk. How could they not be?

It also suggests that D&S was not only aware of the risk, but was addressing it with diligence by using surveillance and firefighting crews to spot and extinguish these fires.

And it does seem to me that the Forest Service does bear blame for not adequately restricting D&S use of coal fired locomotives when conditions became extremely dry. After all, it is the job of the Forest Service to limit ignition sources during times of high fire danger.


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