Most of Sherwood train trestle collapses overnight, firefighter injured
UPDATE: Only one-third of the trestle remains Tuesday morning, firefighter apparently injured
Only one-quarter of a wooden railroad trestle continued to stand Tuesday morning in Sherwood after burning and partially collapsing Monday night.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews continued monitoring the fire which authorities say could burn for several days throughout the night.
Shortley after 6 a.m. Tuesday, a firefighter was slightly injured after two of the trestle ties shifted and trapped his leg.
"So they had to use chain saws to cut the structure into pieces to free his leg," said Cassandra Ulven, spokeswoman for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. "He was able to walk out."
The firefighter, whose name was not released, was transported to Meridian Park Hospital but is expected to be OK.
On Tuesday morning, long steel rails touched the water beneath the trestle as two firefighters monitored the trestle from the structure's edge.
Events unraveled Monday afternoon when a fast-moving fire engulfed the wooden train trestle. The trestle, which railroad officials say is 85 years old, was originally built 129 years ago.
The railroad released a statment Tuesdya morning, thanking firefighters for their quick response.
"Portland & Western is grateful for the quick response of local first responders and wish a full and speedy recovery to the firefighter who was reported injured," the company said.
P&W said no decision has been made about whether to rebuild the trestle, but said that the fire won't impact rail-served customers.
Throughout the afternoon and late into the evening, trestle supports were weakened, some of them separating from the Portland and Western Railway track, as firefighters prepared for the trestle to collapse.
The incident began when a grass fire was reported after 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, in a field near Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road east of Langer Farms Parkway where the Sherwood Walmart is located.
The fire quickly spread and started burning the trestle, which is part of the Portland & Western Railway Rex Hill line and spans a wetland wildlife area and Rock Creek. The line has been out of service for years and used sparingly by railway customers. The trestle is 600 feet long by 50 feet tall.
Smoke from the blaze could be seen for several miles.
Firefighters were staging at North Star Chemical to protect it in the event that flames spread.
Firefighting efforts were hampered by difficult access, TVF&R reported as an estimated two to three acres was burned.
Later on Monday, a second alarm was called with additional units responding.
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Several businesses east of the tracks were evacuated. In addition to North Star Chemical, fire crews were monitoring Allied Systems Company on Oregon Street to make sure the fire didnt spread. At various times throughout the afternoon and evening, portions of Oregon Street, Century Drive and other streets were closed to traffic for firefighting operations.Fire officials said that six tanker cars located just in front of the burning trestle were empty and clean, their wheels locked so they couldnt roll in either direction.
Meanwhile, police and fire personnel used a community notification phone system (using a variety of automated phone calls, emails and texts) to notify 7,000 residents and businesses within a 2.5 square-mile area about smoky conditions, aimed at warning those with respiratory problems. Thick plumes of smoke caused by the creosote-infused timbers burned.
Fire investigators continue to look into the cause of the blaze.
An estimated 50 to 55 fire personnel were called to battle the fire, using an estimated 15 pieces of apparatus during the fire's peak.
Kevin Harden contributed to this report.