Dubuque firefighters fight terrain to get to burning train - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque firefighters fight terrain to get to burning train

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) - When a Canadian Pacific train derailed 10 miles north of Dubuque last week, firefighters had no choice but to get close to the scene to assess what was going on.

"We just really needed to go down and take a look," said Rick Steines, Dubuque's Fire Chief. "Because of the really poor access and where the command post was set up, you could not see the incident."

What they saw was multiple train cars on fire.

"We haven't had anything with a fire in a container, so a little bit of concern that way," he said.

Normally in a situation like that, Steines said they like to use distance as their best protection -- especially in a situation where there is the potential for an explosion.

But because the incident happened in such a remote location, Steines said they didn't have that luxury. But the terrain did help a little.

"Because of the bluff, they did have a really well-protected area to approach. But at one point then, once they come around the corner of the bluff, they're exposed at the point," he said.

The firefighters on the scene assessed there wasn't much to be done, and correctly decided to back off, Steines said.

They also couldn't get a big-enough water pump close enough to the scene to help combat the flames. That's why they burned into the night and the next day, he said.

Now that the cars have been removed and the railway opened back up, the focus has shifted to assess the damage done by the ethanol spill.
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