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New case of track sabotage for BNSF

(The following story by Barney Lerten appeared at KTVZ.com on August 20.)

BEND, Ore. — Another act of apparent train track vandalism, if not outright sabotage, occurred over the weekend as a train struck a stack of tires on the tracks near Sunriver, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway officials said Monday.

It was the second such incident in just over a week. On Aug. 10, a pilot car for a northbound 81-car freight train (including seven cars carrying hazardous anhydrous ammonia) found debris on or near the tracks near the Finley Butte Road crossing in La Pine.

Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton called that incident "an apparent attempt to cause damage to the track rail itself, which could have potentially caused a train derailment."

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said that while the weekend incident and the earlier one remain under investigation, the railroad doesn't believe the two incidents are connected.

However, the railroad - which has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Aug. 10 culprits - is stepping up its own patrols of tracks in the area, Melonas said.

"We're keeping a close eye on the situation," Melonas said, noting that anyone found to have trespassed on railroad tracks or property will be cited.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

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