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Train carrying smoldering garbage car rolls through gorge to Arlington

A smoldering garbage car rolled through the Columbia Gorge this morning with local emergency responders on alert in the event fire might spread to the surrounding countryside.

“There is a single container in the train that is smoldering,” said Brock Nelson, public affairs director for Union Pacific in Oregon and Washington. The train was nearing its Arlington destination at around 9 a.m. and Nelson said the plan was, after arrival, to take it to a location where the container can be lifted off the train and firefighters can put it out.

“Our management team is on board and coordinating it,” said Nelson, who was unaware any similar circumstances in the past. An Oregon State Police officer was following and observing the train as it moved through the gorge out of concerns about potential risks of spreading fire.

Shawn Payne, emergency coordinator for Sherman County, said her office was aware of the train as it moved through the county.

“The fire chief in Rufus saw it going through, and said it was in one of the upper container boxes and just looked as if there was a fire in the garbage,” Payne said.

“We’re taking the safe course in all aspects here,” Nelson added.

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