Brian Wilson has seen his fair share of accidents involving tractor-trailers. However, on Wednesday afternoon, the Moose Jaw Fire Department’s deputy chief was on the scene of the 24-car train derailment about 35 kilometres west of the Friendly City.
© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Liewicki
A barrage of lumber and twisted metal from some of the 24 Canadian Pacific Railway cars that derailed on the CP main line about 35 kilometres west of Moose Jaw on Wednesday afternoon lie strewn about. Investigation into the derailment remains ongoing.
“It’s the biggest derailment I’ve personally been to,” Wilson told the Times-Herald on Friday.
Being on scene during the early stages of the investigation, Wilson added that perspective is gained “into how much force was behind the derailment.”
Wilson explained that the fire department’s biggest concern when responding to a derailment is approaching from a safe distance and making sure the scene is safe so as not to put any firefighters in harm’s way.
It’s a slow process, says Wilson, but until more information is ascertained do fire crews inch closer to the scene, as was the case on Wednesday.
“It was a big mess, but our concern is to make sure nothing was actually leaking and our investigation didn’t show signs of anything leaking, which was a good thing,” said Wilson.
Thirty-two members of the fire department’s staff have completed a hazmat course, which allows them to work at identifying hazardous materials, securing a scene and assisting with decontamination if necessary. That training was put into practice at the derailment.
Of the 24 cars that left the tracks and formed a jumbled mess, 16 contained gasoline, five had lumber and three were carrying asphalt.
The rail line re-opened at 5 p.m. Thursday evening, a detail that was confirmed by CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow.
She noted the cleanup of the derailment is progressing, but at this point is still under investigation and it’s unknown when it will conclude.
Julie Leroux, a spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said its team of investigators have concluded their work in the field, but are still assessing the situation.
“They’ll make a decision to do a full investigation – or not – on Monday,” said Leroux. “They need to analyze the information they gathered in the field and make a decision.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks.