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TSB concludes investigation into cause of London, Ont. freight train fire


More than two weeks after a freight train with several railcars ablaze rolled through the heart of the Forest City, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has concluded its investigation.

Just before 11 p.m. on April 22, 2024, the London Fire Department received multiple 9-1-1 calls regarding an eastbound train on fire crossing over Oxford Street.

The train was able to come to a stop in the area of Waterloo Street and Pall Mall Street where first responders took approximately one hour to get the fire under control.

Damage to the railcars was estimated at $25,000 and $10,000 to a Drewlo Holding building.  


The TSB’s investigation

On Wednesday, the TSB issued a statement in regards to the investigation.

Investigation into the freight train fire revealed that “the cause of the fire was likely sparks from the locomotive exhaust along with the air flow of the moving train causing the fire to spread rearward to each subsequent car.”

According to the TSB, London’s freight train fire was classified as a ‘class five investigation,’ in which incidents of this nature “are not subject to comprehensive investigations followed by an investigation report.”

With that said however, class five incidents are recorded for possible future safety analysis, statistical reporting, or archival purposes.

A train caught fire while moving through downtown London April 21, 2024. (Source: Mikhail Ivanov)


A timeline of events

Information gathered indicates that once the train crew became aware of the fire on their train somewhere between Caradoc and London, they immediately stopped and cut away from the tail end of the train, isolating the six open top gondola cars.

From there, the crew then slowly pulled the train cars to a safe location just east of Waterloo Street and adjacent to a commercial fire hydrant, where the crew then separated the locomotives from the gondola cars.

The fire department was already on scene and after the crew advised the fire department of the cars’ contents of old wooden railway ties, fire crews extinguished the flames with water and retardant foam within an hour.

Crews work to keep a fire out on five train cars that caught fire as it moved through downtown London on April 21, 2024. (Source: London fire)

The London Fire Department “commended” the train crew’s decisive actions, the TSB said.

In addition, the TSB noted that the fire department determined the fire was contained, and because there was nothing within the vicinity or right of way that was combustible, there was “little to no risk to the public.”

In light of the investigation, the TSB concluded that “there is nothing that would indicate any further investigation beyond a class five investigation would produce any systemic safety benefits.” Top Stories

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