Cajon Pass Wildfire Halts Rail Traffic

9455 views
93 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Cajon Pass Wildfire Halts Rail Traffic
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 7:29 PM

Started late this morning west of I-15 and has taken off to the east.  As of around one PM PDT, UPRR reported to the CHP that UP and BNSF train traffic through the pass had been halted.

Some links:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Firefighters-Battle-Brush-Fire-Near-I-15-in-Devore-390340002.html

http://ktla.com/2016/08/16/evacuations-issued-in-fast-moving-wild-fire-burning-in-devore/

http://abc7.com/news/brush-fire-quickly-spreads-in-devore-near-cajon-pass/1471966/

BTW, spellczeck works in the subject box, just not in the body portion of the message editor.

  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 11:51 PM

The fire area is basically my turf, but all roads into the area are presently closed off, including the I-15 Freeway.

Below is an excellent link with photos (Press-Enterprise, pe.com), the first two involves railroading in the pass.  The first one is believed to be at CP WALKER.

http://www.pe.com/articles/brush-810732-tuesday-freeway.html

Reports are sketchy at best, but it is questionable if the McDonalds fast food restaurant near Highway 138 and I-15 survived.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is believed that the overpowering stench of photobucket.com is what killed me! Coming to you from the afterlife … On the other hand, PostImage.io is cool!
  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 1:49 AM

From the CHP log on the fire tonight (Tuesday):

8:06 PM 201 [588] PER 201A - BRIDGE JEO I15 AT THE SPLIT IS BURNT DOWN - RR BRIDGE

 

I am guessing that by "the split" they are talking about where the NB and SB lanes part company for a while north of the 138 interchange.  KP can maybe enlighten us on which bridge that might be.

 

EDIT: Looks like the Golden Arches KP mentioned got taken out, as of the 11:18 pm. update.

  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 10:11 AM

ChuckCobleigh (8-16):

With the CHP’s “BRIDGE JEO I15” I interpret that to be transliterated as ‘the railroad bridge just east of I-15.’

There are actually THREE railroad bridges east of I-15.  The old SP Palmdale Cutoff one and two BNSF ones.  Two file photos from July 12, 2010 were uncovered, and thus are shown below.  The one for Mains 1 and 2 (forefront bridge, old North Track) …

… and for Main 3 (the old South Track).

Which one (assumedly of those) wasn’t said on that CHP site, but both BNSF bridges have metal under framing and wooden cross tie-like material above that metal-work.  The wood is probably what was referred to in the CHP website reporting.  The SP one is probably all metal with some concrete.

All the roads and freeway are still closed, and may be so for a while, so it may be some time before an onsite visit can be made.  The Mrs. will be taking photos somewhere in Cajon Pass today in her official capacity with a fire dept.  Lucky dog (or is it a cat?) …

Best,

K.P.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is believed that the overpowering stench of photobucket.com is what killed me! Coming to you from the afterlife … On the other hand, PostImage.io is cool!
  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • 181 posts
Posted by azrail on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:15 AM

I have heard that the famed Summit Inn has burned down.

The question is, how is BNSF rerouting its trains in and out of LA with the pass closed?

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • 2,844 posts
Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:24 AM
  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 45 posts
Posted by David1005 on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:03 PM

This morning fire map shows fire has burned from Keenbrook to east of Summit.  

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/photos/CABDF/2016-08-16-1443-Bluecut-Fire/picts/2016_08_17-08.22.45.133-CDT.pdf

Photo shows long steel single track bridge buckled from heat.  Photo may have been taken from 138.  

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 1:20 PM

K. P. Harrier
Lucky dog (or is it a cat?)

One of the pictures in the LA Times picture gallery mentioned in Northwest's post would suggest cat.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 1:25 PM

azrail

I have heard that the famed Summit Inn has burned down.

The question is, how is BNSF rerouting its trains in and out of LA with the pass closed?

I don't think that there is a suitable reroute strategy.  For the moment, it sounds like they are holding trains.

From the BNSF website:

 

To: All Impacted Customers
08/16/2016

Preliminary Report: Service Interruption at Cajon, California

BNSF is currently experiencing an operational impact due to track outage, caused by wildfires in Cajon, California. Cajon, California is approximately 20 miles Northwest of San Bernardino, California. This location impacts traffic to and from the Southern California On-Dock (SCOD), Los Angeles, and San Bernardino facilities. The estimated time for opening for the main tracks has not been determined.

BNSF will continue to provide you with additional information as it becomes available. Customers may experience delays of 36 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor.

  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 2:06 PM

azrail (8-17):

Amtrak No. 3 was rerouted today, and traveled from Barstow to Mojave, then south to Los Angeles via Soledad Canyon and Sylmar.  It had a pilot.  BNSF might do that too for a superhot train, and UP from the LA&SL might too, but there are too many Metrolink’s closer to Los Angeles that makes a widespread reroute effort impractical.

David1005 (8-17):

That “long steel single track bridge” that bucked (early-on in the picture gallery that Northwest linked for us) was likely shot from the closed I-15 or its embankment.  That bridge is that background one in the first photo of my earlier post.

ChuckCobleigh (8-17)

I tend to agree … Cat!

Take care all,

K.P.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is believed that the overpowering stench of photobucket.com is what killed me! Coming to you from the afterlife … On the other hand, PostImage.io is cool!
  • Member since
    July, 2009
  • From: SW Los Angeles county
  • 943 posts
Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 2:44 PM

K.P., good to see that you are still safe.  Pray for the good work and safety of the firefighters.

Here is a Twitter link of some pics and video.  One of those shows a close up of the burned RR bridge. Never thought it could get that hot!

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 1,500 posts
Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 2:54 PM

As far as I kno wthere are only 2 ways for trains to get into the LA area.  Fron the east over Cajon pass, which is now blocked.  Or over the Donner summit and through the San Juaquin Valley over the Tehechapei pass.  BNSF and UP could reroute trains this way to keep traffic moving.  Given it is the long way around, but atleast traffic will get into and out of LA.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 8,387 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 3:14 PM

caldreamer

As far as I kno wthere are only 2 ways for trains to get into the LA area.  Fron the east over Cajon pass, which is now blocked.  Or over the Donner summit and through the San Juaquin Valley over the Tehechapei pass.  BNSF and UP could reroute trains this way to keep traffic moving.  Given it is the long way around, but atleast traffic will get into and out of LA.

 

As K.P. remarked about an hour ago, there is a way around Cajon: go north on the BNSF from Barstow to Mojave, and then go south on the UP's line from Bakersfield. However, he cautioned that not much traffic colld be so diverted  lest it impede Metrolink's operation.

Johnny

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: NW Wisconsin
  • 3,620 posts
Posted by beaulieu on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 5:55 PM

BNSF is detouring via UP's Sunset Route. UP's ZLADV went via Saugus and then will go via Donner. UP is planning on three trains up the Coast Line today. Finally the bridge that burned is on the UP line up to Summit.

Destroyed UP Bridge

 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 6:27 PM

beaulieu
Finally the bridge that burned is on the UP line up to Summit.

The picture linked to looks like a part of "Big Thunder Mountain" at Disneyland.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 6:43 PM

caldreamer

As far as I kno wthere are only 2 ways for trains to get into the LA area.  Fron the east over Cajon pass, which is now blocked.  Or over the Donner summit and through the San Juaquin Valley over the Tehechapei pass.  BNSF and UP could reroute trains this way to keep traffic moving.  Given it is the long way around, but atleast traffic will get into and out of LA.

One possibility that could involve a ballet involving an extra set of engines and crew  that could be done by BNSF would be to come west from Barstow to Mohave, cut the engines from the front (north end) of the train and then put the extra set on the rear (south end) and then go into LA on the Metrolink Palmdale route.  That would no doubt involve a pilot engineer qualified on that stretch, which is an additional complication.

My educated guess is that the normal level of BNSF traffic Barstow/Bakersfield probably would make that a real squeeze and not worth it for the two days or so of probable delays they are otherwise looking at.

Another option for BNSF could be diverting from the TransCon over the Peavine to Phoenix and then down to the Sunset Route and back into SoCal.

Or the easy thing to do: hold the trains until the smoke clears.

Sure wish I had the Maalox rights in Fort Worth right now.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 17,167 posts
Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 9:05 PM

Here's a map from earlier today, before they got even 4% containment:

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Hope, AR
  • 1,930 posts
Posted by narig01 on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 9:57 PM

K. P. Harrier

The fire area is basically my turf, but all roads into the area are presently closed off, including the I-15 Freeway.

Below is an excellent link with photos (Press-Enterprise, pe.com), the first two involves railroading in the pass.  The first one is believed to be at CP WALKER.

http://www.pe.com/articles/brush-810732-tuesday-freeway.html

Reports are sketchy at best, but it is questionable if the McDonalds fast food restaurant near Highway 138 and I-15 survived.

 

KP stay safe. Just out of curiosity what about the CHP truck scales? It looked like the scale houses were right in the middle of the fire. 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Denver / La Junta
  • 8,774 posts
Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 10:12 PM

Assume the "treehouse' colony bit the dust as well Embarrassed...Spent many a meal at that McDonalds when it was somewhat new.

Timber deck/ballast decking can get replaced in short order as long as the steel isn't hurt. Thankfully, per Santa Fe practice, the open deck structures are long gone as opposed to the BN practice which was never as aggressive.  You can bet whatever is needed is already coming mui-pronto. 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 11:08 PM

A Source … and another Fire …

A source understands UP lost one bridge and BNSF lost three because of the fire.

Probably related, but another nearby fire started this afternoon in the Phelan area (pronounced FEE-lan and NOT the traditional FAY-len).  K.P. envisions the two fires probably meeting each other tonight.

The above photo was shot in Pinon Hills in about the M.P. 442 area on UP’s ex-SP Palmdale Cutoff in Southern California.

In my reply to ChuckCobleigh earlier today, in the top photo, it appears ONLY two vertically slightly slanted I-beams held up the center part of that bridge.  Cutting corners about 50 years ago is going to cost the bridge’s owner a nice some of money now.

The whole area remains closed, and may not reopen for a while.  The fast moving fire was MORE OF A FIRE than has sunk in to most of us (or the Press) yet …

At this point it is not clear exactly what kinds of bridges that BNSF lost, but my sneaky suspicion is that they were old wooden ones.  That sank down UP bridge has TWO spans while the two BNSF bridges in that Alray area had one span each.  The explanation for that is Route 66 up till 1969 (when it was replaced by a rerouted I-15) was a four lane highway with a center cleared area with bridge piers.  Old BNSF Bridges (AT&SF back then) were half-landfilled in, and just single spans were left.  SP’s bridge was of a modern type; hence, leaving a second span was no problem.  NOW, however, UP might ("might") just replace that two-span bridge with a single span too.  K.P. will be all eyes on that one.

narig01 (8-17)

That is a good question.  If McDonald’s didn’t make it maybe the CHP scale offices didn’t either.  That should be one thing I will check whenever I can get out that way.  But, here is another one!  I wonder if the railroad security modules survived; you know, those floodlighted trailer-like buildings below I-15 and by the tracks at Cajon? 

Catch you all later,

K.P.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is believed that the overpowering stench of photobucket.com is what killed me! Coming to you from the afterlife … On the other hand, PostImage.io is cool!
  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Thursday, August 18, 2016 1:10 AM

At this point, I think it is a safe bet that not so many UP trucks as usual will be parked in the Tehachapi Fairfield Inn parking lot for a few days, at least when the smoke mostly clears.

Just a guess.  Gonna be some busy folks in the pass for the next week or two.  MC is right on the "stuff is on the way" comment, if past experience is any indicator.

A final thought is a suspicion that contingency plans for bridge losses are on the shelf and ready to go when needed.  Just an idle thought from an engineering point of view.

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 45 posts
Posted by David1005 on Thursday, August 18, 2016 2:40 AM

There are four tracks and four damaged bridges. Is it one bridge per track or are there track(s) that are usable?

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,164 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, August 18, 2016 4:16 AM

UP B&B certainly cannot catch a break.  First the Brazos bridge and now this !

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 17,167 posts
Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:29 AM

I saw an image (but don't remember where) of a railroad bridge that appeared to be of other than wood construction, but had settled significantly.  It wasn't the one that burned along highway 101.  There were hard hats in attendance.  It was clear no trains would be crossing it in the immediate future.

There are images online of a burned McD's sign, and the Summit Inn has succumbed as well.

 

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,067 posts
Posted by diningcar on Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:05 AM

See news release here at TRAINS NEWS site for later info.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Thursday, August 18, 2016 10:46 AM

BNSF now reporting two tracks open.

08/18/2016

Update Report: Service Interruption at Cajon Pass in California

On Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 7:28 p.m. Central Time, BNSF reported a track outage caused by wildfires impacting our Cajon Subdivision, which runs between San Bernardino and Barstow, California. This location impacts traffic to and from the Southern California On-Dock (SCOD), Los Angeles and San Bernardino facilities.

Main Track 1 will remain out of service. Main Tracks 2 and 3 were both restored as of 5:50 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016. Continued recovery efforts will be subject to wildfire activity in the affected areas.

BNSF will continue to provide you with additional information as it becomes available. Customers may experience delays of 36 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor.

 
  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • 181 posts
Posted by azrail on Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:18 AM

Depending on how "sterilizing" the fire was, expect major flooding in this area when the winter rains come.

  • Member since
    July, 2008
  • From: Marietta, GA
  • 809 posts
Posted by rdamon on Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:46 AM

This may take a little longer to fix ... Photos on: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-blue-cut-fire-20160816-snap-story.html

 

Looks like the important part of the golden arches is fine...

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 17,167 posts
Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 18, 2016 1:30 PM

If the image will post, there is one shot showing the roof of McD's on fire...

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Sunny (mostly) San Diego
  • 1,480 posts
Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:29 PM

BNSF slight update tonight to indicate that it will be a while before they clear the backlog.  Also, I noticed earlier that I-15 north and south had been reopened.

To: 
08/18/2016

Update Report: Service Interruption at Cajon Pass in California

On Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 at 1:45 p.m. Central Time, BNSF reported a track outage caused by wildfires impacting our Cajon Subdivision, which runs between San Bernardino and Barstow, California. This location impacts traffic to and from the Southern California On-Dock (SCOD), Los Angeles and San Bernardino facilities.

Main Tracks 2 and 3 were both restored as of 7:50 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016. Main Track 1 currently remains out of service. The estimated time for opening has not been determined. The wildfires continue to pose an ongoing threat, and with winds expected to increase later today, BNSF is working closely with fire officials to ensure safe operations through this area.

BNSF will continue to provide you with additional information as it becomes available. While trains are moving again through the Cajon Pass, the 24 hour service outage has created a substantial backlog of traffic that will take time to clear. Customers may experience delays of 36 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor.

 

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy

Search the Community