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Train strikes tractor-trailer hauling vehicles in Ridgefield

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter, and
, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 6, 2018, 10:45am
5 Photos
This tractor-trailer was struck by a Union Pacific train Tuesday morning in Ridgefield. The semi then rolled into Lake River, at the Port of Ridgefield. The hood and bumper of the semi were still in the river when it was pulled out of the water. (Jerzy Shedlock/The Columbian)
This tractor-trailer was struck by a Union Pacific train Tuesday morning in Ridgefield. The semi then rolled into Lake River, at the Port of Ridgefield. The hood and bumper of the semi were still in the river when it was pulled out of the water. (Jerzy Shedlock/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — A Union Pacific train collided with a tractor-trailer that was high-centered on railroad tracks near the Port of Ridgefield early Tuesday morning.

Clark County Fire and Rescue was dispatched about 8:15 a.m. to North Railroad Avenue and Mill Street for a report of an incident involving a train.

Emergency dispatch logs show an ambulance responded to the crash, but no one was injured.

The tractor-trailer was loaded with four vehicles. After being struck, the truck and trailer rolled about 100 yards and into Lake River, an 11-mile tributary of the Columbia River, according to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas.

The truck was submerged up to its windows, as was part of the trailer. A van that was on the trailer fell onto adjacent train tracks.

Responders using a rescue boat laid about 300 feet of shoreline boom around the trailer.

It was initially reported that about 100 gallons of diesel and oil spilled into Lake River. Sandy Howard, of the Washington Department of Ecology spills program, said an oil sheen was reported on the Columbia River. However, the U.S. Coast Guard later adjusted the estimated spillage to less than 5 gallons.

Eamonn Ryan, acting battalion chief with Clark County Fire and Rescue, said the tractor-trailer driver called 911 as soon as the vehicle became stuck, but it was too late to stop the train.

The route is used by 60 trains per day but was temporarily shut down due to the crash; 10 trains were delayed, Melonas said. The tracks are owned by BNSF, but the company allows Union Pacific and Amtrak trains to use them.

The crossing where the incident occurred has automatic traffic control devices. BNSF workers inspected the signals at the crossing, as well as the condition of the tracks, and by 11 a.m., the tracks were cleared and back in operation.

Officials at the scene said the train engine involved in the collision was not damaged, and Melonas said it was taken to Woodland.

Meanwhile, two TLC Towing trucks were used to pull the tractor-trailer from the water around noon. The truck was missing its hood and the engine was exposed, and there was damage to the trailer. The hood of the truck was believed to be in the water near the dock, said Brent Grening, CEO of the Port of Ridgefield.

But the dock off of Mill Street was undamaged. The tractor-trailer went into the water through a gap between two sections of dock.

“It’s remarkable that it missed everything,” Grening said.

A man in a fishing boat approached the dock as Grening was looking for damage, asking when he’d be able to get his vessel out of the water, and noted that there were other boats waiting to do the same. Most of the activity at the dock is recreational, Grening said.

The port opened land access north of the dock at West Division Street.

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