Railroad tie fire still burning in Alabama despite storm

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

A huge fire that consumed thousands of railroad ties in rural western Alabama was still burning Tuesday, nearly two days after it started.

A storm that dumped rain on the blaze Monday evening helped keep it contained to the property of National Salvage and Services Corp., but it wasn’t enough to douse the flames, said Billy Barrett, chief of the Valley Grande Volunteer Fire Department.

“(It) could be up to a week before it’s completely burned out,” said Barrett.

An apparent lighting strike started the fire about 6 p.m. Sunday, Barrett said. No one was hurt and no evacuations were required, but officials said the heavy smoke from wood treated with chemicals could cause breathing problems for people with asthma or other medical conditions.

The company yard typically holds “thousands upon thousands” of railroad ties that are ground up and used for fuel, primarily in industrial boilers, a spokesperson said.