Repair work ahead following late July train derailment and fire on bridge over Tempe Town Lake
PHOENIX - Crews are beginning to think about repair work in Tempe, following a train derailment and fire that garnered global attention in late July.
At the time of the incident, Tempe Fire Department officials say the derailment happened around 6:09 a.m. on July 29, and involved a Union Pacific train. At one point, fire officials say the fire was designated as a four-alarm, which Tempe Fire officials say represents a big event in the world of firefighting.
A Union Pacific spokesperson said at the time that eight to 10 rail cars caught on fire.
On July 31, Tempe Fire officials say two workers were hurt during the cleanup effort. Officials say the workers were involved in an offloading process for a tank car containing the hazardous material cyclohexanone, and were splashed with the material as they were disconnecting a hose.
Crews beginning to think about repairs
According to the City of Tempe's website, the rail bridge involved in the incident, officially called the Salt River Union Pacific Bridge, was built in 1912. 1912 was the same year Arizona became a state. A 150-foot area of the rail bridge was demolished on the morning of August 2.
""The only rail car left on the bridge was the lumber car, it was determined that the easiest and safest way was to let the lumber fall into the water, buoyed in, so we can collect it," said Tempe Fire Chief Greg Ruiz.
During a news conference on July 3, Tempe officials say they are moving into the next phase.
"The emergency response has concluded, and we will transition into construction and cleanup," said Fire Chief Ruiz.
The rebuilt section of the rail bridge will have a slightly different look.
"Many were concerned with the rebuilding and how it looks, because while it may be their bridge, it is our city," said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods.
"I stated I didn’t have a timeline, but it is not months. It will be weeks," said Clint Schelbitzki with Union Pacific. "It all depends on how the process goes over the next several days."
Cause under investigation
The cause of the derailment remains under investigation by Union Pacific. Meanwhile, the FBI has concluded their investigation and turned findings over to Tempe Police, who say there’s no reason to suspect any foul play right now.
On his Twitter page on August 2, FOX 10's Matt Galka noted that there is a post circulating on social media that claims protesters, specifically Black Lives Matter protesters, caused the train derailment via an act of sabotage.
In a series of Twitter posts, Galka noted that the derailment incident happened on a Wednesday, while the protest happened on a Monday.
"Between Monday night and Wednesday morning, other trains ran on those tracks. These two events, protests followed by train derailment, did not occur back to back. Other trains would have fallen victim to the sabotage," Galka wrote.