Train derailed in northern Idaho, sending engine and crew into river

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A train derailed, and the front engine plunged into the Kootenai River Wednesday night.

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BONNERS FERRY, ID (East Idaho News) — A train derailed, and the front engine plunged into the Kootenai River Wednesday night.

Three locomotives — including the one that ended up in the river — and six railcars went off the tracks around 8:45 p.m.

Two train workers had to be rescued.

“The scene was only able to (be) accessed by water, and once the sheriff’s marine boat was able to access the scene, the crew members were able to be safely retrieved from the top of the train and have been escorted to the nearby medical personnel,” a Boundary County Sheriff’s Office news release states.

The crew members were unhurt.

According to the news release, the call came into the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office that the train had derailed around 9 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies, marine deputies and reserves, and Boundary County Search and Rescue, Boundary County Emergency Management, Boundary Ambulance, multiple fire agencies, and Idaho State Police responded to the crash.

“BNSF has not determined an official cause; however, it appears it was a rock slide that caused it,” BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas told EastIdahoNews.com.

BNSF Railway is working to remove the locomotive from the river and get the train back on the tracks.

“We’ve mobilized equipment in, brought in by rail flatcar. There are cranes. The cables, we’ll hook them up to the locomotives and start pulling. We’ll get the one rerailed, get the one off the bank and then work on the one in the river as well. The cars will be rerailed,” Melonas said.

BNSF does not know how long the cleanup will take.

All six of the railcars were empty, but crews are working to make sure any leaked diesel fuel from the engine is contained.

“We have one containment boom across the Kootenai River just downriver of Bonners Ferry. There’s been no confirmation that any of the diesel fuel has reached that far downriver yet,” Boundary County Emergency Manager Andrew O’Neel told EastIdahoNews.com.

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