Nearly five hours after a train derailment and explosion devastated the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic, the intensity of the black smoke still rising from the burning buildings left Farmington, ME, Fire Chief Terry Bell amazed.
“You ride that distance and say, ‘Ah, they’ll probably have it out before we get there,’” Bell said. “But it wasn’t. The smoke was still coming up over the houses.”
At about 1:14 a.m., July 6, 2013, a runaway freight train consisting of 72 crude oil tank cars careened unattended through the center of the city of 6,000 people located 22 miles northeast of the U.S. border. Only nine tank cars survived the subsequent disaster intact.