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The Carthage Press
  • No one hurt; Firefighters allow blaze to burn out

  • Thousands of old railroad ties, stacked in two piles about 450 feet long and 10 to 12 feet high, caught fire Sunday at the western end of the Ruby Jack Trail on State Line Road west of Carl Junction.
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  • Thousands of old railroad ties, stacked in two piles about 450 feet long and 10 to 12 feet high, caught fire Sunday at the western end of the Ruby Jack Trail on State Line Road west of Carl Junction.
    A column of smoke billowing thousands of feet in the air could be seen for miles around for hours on Sunday, but there wasn't much Carl Junction firefighters could do other than watch it burn and make sure it didn't spread beyond the trail.
    "I wouldn't say it would be impossible, but it would be unlikely you could put this out," said Carl Junction Fire Chief Bill Dunn. "You'd use about a million gallons of water and then you've got to be concerned about runoff from the creosote and other stuff that's in the ties. Then you have another hazard you've got to take care of so it's sort of a no-win situation, whether you're polluting the air or you're polluting the earth."
    Dunn said the fire was first reported at about 4 p.m. on Easter Sunday.
    Firefighters arrived to find the pile of ties already burning and the fire spreading from State Line Road to the east.
    The wooden ties were removed by a group working to convert the former railroad to a trail running 16 miles from the state line to Carthage.
    Dunn said they are owned by a railroad salvage company in Lee's Summit, Mo.
    Vehicles traveled slowly down State Line Road as spectators came out to see what was happening. The traffic added the dust from the gravel road to the black smoke from the fire, creating a hazy scene about a mile west of the tiny community of Smithfield, which lies between Carl Junction and the State Line.
    A check of the scene on Monday afternoon showed that the fire had largely died down, but the huge pile continued to smolder and blaze, and may continue to smolder for days.
    Dunn said officials with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources were alerted to the fire.

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