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WCFD7 fire engine overhead forward lights. Video: My Ferndale News

First responders dispatched to Custer derailment scene after another fire reported

FERNDALE, Wash. — First responders were dispatched tonight, Wednesday, December 23rd, at about 9:15pm to the location of Tuesday’s rail car derailment and fire due to reports of a rail car on fire.

Whatcom County Fire District 7 (WCFD7) and North Whatcom Fire & Rescue responded to tonight’s incident.

BNSF was reported to be in the area rebuilding, inspecting and testing its mainline track with plans to reopen it tomorrow.

WCFD7 Division Chief Ben Boyko said residual oil on the ground appeared to have been ignited by the repair work.

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According to WCFD7 Assistant Fire Chief Dean Crosswhite, there was very little fuel remaining so this was a small fire and quickly extinguished. As such, there was no need for evacuations unlike Tuesday’s incident.

Tuesday’s derailment of 7 tanker rail cars containing crude oil and subsequent fire involving 2 of the cars resulted in an evacuation of everyone within a half-mile radius and a 2-hour closure of I-5.

Fire crews had cleared the scene of the initial fire earlier today around 6pm after spending about 30 hours on-scene. Fire crews remained at the scene tonight for about 2 hours after being dispatched to ensure precautions were in place to minimize the opportunity for another fire, Crosswhite said.

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It was reported earlier today that Washington Department of Ecology, Environmental Protection Agency, BNSF Railway and other local, state, Tribal and federal partners were making a coordinated effort to remove oil from the remaining tank cars and to clear and clean up the area.

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