A fire at the BNSF terminal building in Alliance is reported to have caused $3 million dollars in damage to the facility.
On Sunday afternoon, the Alliance Volunteer Fire Department responded to the BNSF terminal building around 12:20 p.m. Alliance Fire Chief Troy Shoemaker said that firefighters had the fire “somewhat controlled” around 3:30 and cleared the scene by 5 p.m.
Amy Casas, senior director of external communications with BNSF Railway, said, “We did have a structural fire; all our employees were safely evacuated, thankfully. The local fire department managed to extinguish the fire within a few hours. We currently have a temporary worksite set up for any employees who worked out of that building while we conduct inspections and any necessary remediation work to the facility. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.”
Shoemaker said firefighters from his department found the blaze in between the metallic roof and a roof membrane in the area where the roof met the exterior wall of the tower structure, and worked the wind-driven exterior fire. Hemingford Volunteer Fire and Bayard Fire Department provided mutual aid.
“The fire itself occurred on the roof, however, there was significant smoke and water damage to the interior of the building,” Shoemaker said.
The total damage done to the building was estimated at $3 million.
“There’s roughly $100,000 worth of fire damage on the roof but how the fire burnt between the metal roof deck, the insulation and the rubber membrane, it created a roof drain,” he said. “So every ounce of water that we put on to extinguish the fire went into the interior. It went through the roof deck, collapsed the false ceiling, so we basically had open penetration to the inside of the building.”
Shoemaker said that in addition to damage to sheetrock, AFD officials and the deputy state fire marshal out of Ogallala estimated potential damage to sensitive electronics inside the building at perhaps $2 million. That figure would be finalized by BNSF.
He did say there were some silver linings, in that there were no injuries to either BNSF or fire personnel.
“No one was treated at the scene and we did not transport anybody,” he said.
Shoemaker said railroad officials were able to retrieve some equipment deemed important to their duties out of the Alliance facility. Terminal officials told him that some vital equipment was not touched by the water, including some of the signal and switching equipment used by staff.