Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

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Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby jmar896 » Mon May 25, 2015 11:24 am

For those of you who don't know, Yesterday (5/24/15) "fire department activity" shut down the Framingham/Worcester line for a few hours and delayed a few trains. The fire was a brush fire in Westboro, Southboro, and a strech in Ashland. The fire went on for miles, right next to the tracks. I was listing to the Westboro FD scanner and for the most part the flames were right next to the tracks. I am thinking the fire was started by something one the rails shorting out and sparking, considering the fire spread for miles in under 40 minutes. I know when there is bad wiring in something it can spark, so I am wondering if a traction motor or something shorted out and started the blaze. Is there any systems on a train that set off an indicator light or something when something is sparking or burning on a train. I am guessing there is an alarm that goes off when a fire is detected in a traction motor, but is there a system that warns of significant sparking? I am going to wait until a real investigation comes out, but I think that the most pluasable cuase of this fire was something to do with the train and someone not realizing what was going on.

Here is a news story about the incident:http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20150524/NEWS/150527746/11362/NEWS

Also, does anyone know what locomotives were operating around the time that the fire started (Probably around 1:30-3ish)?

I have pictures of some of the damage that I will upload and post later. One of them you can see the trackside damage.
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Re: Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby dbperry » Mon May 25, 2015 1:57 pm

I also heard about this fire and was wondering what started it. I'm not sure if there is anything on board a train that can detect a defect, but there is a hot box detector in Ashland, just west of the station (I think).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defect_detector
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Re: Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon May 25, 2015 3:15 pm

Any sparks generated by a traction motor (for whatever reason) would be contained inside the motor casing. Additionally, a short inside the motor would be noticed in the cab almost immediately when the ammeter redlined.
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Re: Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon May 25, 2015 4:44 pm

There's been a red flag warning up for much of MA every time the wind kicks up. Very dry since March, still a lot of dead brush from last Fall. Probably little more than this being peak brush fire season writ-large across the state.
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Re: Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby Cosmo » Mon May 25, 2015 9:13 pm

I think it far more likely that the ROW acted as a fire break stopping the fire in a line alongside it rather than a train causing it. Not saying it's impossible, things like that have happened, but I doubt it was MBTA equipment.
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Re: Fire along Worcester/Framingham Line

Postby JDM864 » Tue May 26, 2015 8:17 am

Cosmo wrote:I think it far more likely that the ROW acted as a fire break stopping the fire in a line alongside it rather than a train causing it. Not saying it's impossible, things like that have happened, but I doubt it was MBTA equipment.


Speaking with the fire officials on scene Sunday, the fires appear to have been started by a passing train. Numerous fires stretched along the ROW for several miles.

Back in the day when locomotives used to idle all of the time, carbon would build up in the exhaust stacks. When the freight from Framingham to Fitchburg (on the current CSXT Fitchburg Sub) hit the grade in Southborough, the hot carbon would blow out of the stacks and light brush fires along the ROW for miles. The same thing used to happen frequently along what is now the MBTA Worcester main (the former B&A) with freights departing Framingham.

Having been in the fire service for nearly four decades (and a stint as a conductor on a Class I railroad), I have seen my share of, and fought numerous brush fires started by trains. With the tinder dry conditions of this past weekend, all it takes is a spark or two from the exhaust stack or sticky brakes. Even with the newer GE ES44s, I witnessed (during the darkness of night) a number of times when sparks emanated from the exhaust stacks as the trains would throttle up with a large cut of cars in tow.

Even though the Worcester line is predominately commuter (with perhaps different braking systems), a few freights still use this line.
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