Fire Shuts Down Yard Track
Part of Trestle Bridge Consumed by Flames
August 3, 2023
By Mike Motz, Sidney Sun-Telegraph
SIDNEY - On Thursday, July 27 at about 1:15 p.m., a fire was reported at the trestle bridge along the Union Pacific's Sidney Subdivision, directly across from the east entrance to the Cheyenne County Fairgrounds.
The Sun-Telegraph was on the scene, and spoke with a Nebraska Department of Transportation worker who had called in the fire. The worker did not know at the time how the blaze started. The trestle bridge is composed of three separate structures, with two wooden bridges on the outside of the structure and a concrete bridge support in the middle of the structure. The outside wooden trestle, facing south, was engulfed in flames which, after Fire Department personnel arrived, the blaze was quickly extinguished. Due to the creosote coating of the wood structure, thick black smoke could be seen over the site of the fire, with residents as far north as Dalton clearly seeing the smoke rise over western Sidney Thursday afternoon.
It was learned that the fire was accidentally started by minors playing where they should not have been, and one of the minor's mothers reported what had happened to the Sidney Police Department. No names of the participants were released due to their age.
Sidney Fire Chief Matt Butts was able to give additional details about the incident. Nine fire vehicles from Sidney were dispatched to the scene, as well as three from Potter and one from Lodgepole. Two firefighters were injured battling the blaze. One was taken via ambulance to Sidney Regional Medical Center, while another drove himself to the hospital, after the incident was over. Both firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries, and both are doing well after their treatment. Morrill County's Ambulance service, as part of their new agreement with Sidney EMS, transported the first firefighter to Sidney Regional Medical Center.
Butts said that railroad inspectors with the Nebraska Department of Transportation out of Omaha inspected the bridge the next morning, and determined the southern wooden trestle structure was too damaged to remain Operational. This part of the trestle supports the yard track, and will be shut down until the wooden structure is repaired. There is no estimated time of completion for the repair at this time. The main line on the tracks is still operational, as the center concrete trestle structure and wooden trestle structure on the north side of the bridge were undamaged.
The Sun-Telegraph will provide any updates to this story as additional information is made available.