Page:NTSB - Railroad Accident Report - Derailment on May 25, 1989.djvu/42

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the pumps on slowly. The dispatcher stated that as he was doing this, they received a phone call from the San Bernardino County Communication Center asking if Calnev’s pipeline was involved in a fire. The systems specialist then observed through a station window a cloud of smoke in the direction of the pipeline route through San Bernardino, advised the caller that it likely was Calnev’s pipeline, and then instructed the dispatcher to leave the pumps down.

After notifying Calnev locations currently taking delivery of products at Las Vegas, Nevada, that the pipeline was being shut down, the dispatcher began remotely closing valves to isolate the pumps and the storage tanks from the pipeline. In addition to closing the valves at the terminal, he shut down the Baker booster pump station at MP 146.2. After the pressure sensor indicated zero psig pressure at the summit of Cajon Pass, the dispatcher remotely closed the valve at California aqueduct (MP 35.4) which is located on the north side of Cajon Pass. He also stated that notification was made to personnel who had to close other valves manually. The first downstream valve that had to be closed manually was located at MP 25.7; the maintenance supervisor reported that this valve was closed at 9:00 a.m.

Witnesses’ Observations.—A resident at 2395 W. Adams Street stated that she was in her backyard between 7:45 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and noticed a "white colored rain" falling on the house behind hers on Duffy Street. She further stated that after she went back inside her house, she heard an explosion and "then her windows blew in" and the entire house was on fire. Another resident at 2446 San Benito Street stated that he was outside around 8:00 a.m. on May 25, heard a train go by, and about 5 to 10 minutes later heard a "rumble." He stated that he then looked up and saw a "cloud of flame about four houses wide come over the houses…the flame was about 10 feet higher than the rooftops" (figure 10). Several witnesses stated that they saw a white vapor and then heard a loud explosion; this was followed by black smoke and intense heat and flames. A resident at 2385 Mesa Street recalled that a friend, who had arrived at her residence to transport her children to school, "pointed to a spray vapor shooting up into the sky," that was coming from the direction of where the train had derailed. A motorist, who was filling his automobile with gasoline near Macy Street and Highland Avenue, stated that he heard a "rumble," then saw what appeared to be a "geyser" of liquid shooting up in the air near the site of the train derailment. He stated further that within a few moments "it exploded." In addition to the resident on San Benito Street, several residents recalled hearing a train pass by 5 to 10 minutes before the explosion; residents also recalled smelling gas before the explosion. Two residents, one at 2327 Duffy Street and one at 2315 Duffy Street, were fatally burned as a result of the explosion and fire.

Emergency Response to Pipeline Rupture

On May 25, 1989, at about 8:00 a.m., a firefighter leaving his assigned fire station on Highland Avenue noticed a large column of black smoke in line with Highland Avenue, about 2 miles from his location. He returned to the fire station and notified the battalion chief.