GREAT FALLS – People inside the Great Falls Police Department were conducting business as usual on Wednesday afternoon when a loud crash was heard.
“Of course, we came running outside to see what happened and you can see we had another train derailment,” Police Chief David Bowen said.
According to BNSF spokesman Ross Lane, five empty, flat cars derailed between GFPD and River Drive South. The incident occurred around 4:25 p.m. and there were no reports of injuries.
The cars are typically used to haul lumber although the line itself is often used to haul a variety of commodities.
“Today, there was no cargo on board, but there are chemicals that come through here and that concerns me as well,” Bowen said.
He added that the tracks affect not only police department employees who park near the railway, but also the public as the River’s Edge Trail runs through the area.
Bowen said it’s about the fourth derailment that’s occurred in a number of years.
“I sat down last time with BNSF officials and worked out an agreement to limit this happening again and so we’re gonna have the state come in and look at this investigation to see what happened and then I’ll have a chance to sit down with them again and say, ‘What do we do now? What went wrong here? What can we do to ensure this doesn’t keep happening?'” Bowen said.
While estimates are not yet available for damage costs, nine different vehicles were involved including a marked police car and GFPD employee vehicles.
The incident occurred as crews were performing a switching move, according to Lane. The cause is under investigation.
“I think that something might have to do with the temperature today,” Bowen said. “So as the day heats up and the tracks flux a little bit, that’s probably gonna be something that the investigators are gonna look at. What happened here? BNSF has some difficult questions to answer because quite frankly, I need some answers.”
Reporting by Natalie McAlpine for MTN News