Zap Line Subdivision Rail Bridge burned, replaced in under two weeks


A replacement bridge was constructed and back in service in less than two weeks after a fire destroyed the Zap Line Subdivision railroad bridge. Photo courtesy of BNSF Railway.

 The Zap Line Subdivision Bridge, a railroad bridge on the BNSF Railway track near Sanger, North Dakota, caught fire and burned on April 1. This is the second railroad bridge fire in less than one year that has directly affected Dakota Gas and Basin Electric.

The fire and its damage interrupted all inbound and outbound railcars from Dakota Gas and in and outbound railcars supplying coal for Dakota Gas, Antelope Valley Station, and Leland Olds Station.

The fire was caused by ashes that a nearby homeowner had dumped into his yard and subsequently ignited. High winds and extremely dry conditions spread the fire and the local fire department was unable to contain it before it reached the bridge.

According to Zach Jacobson, Basin Electric account manager - Dakota Gas marketing, plans were already being drawn up for a new steel and concrete replacement the day after the fire occurred. Less than two weeks later, the new bridge is in service. “We are very impressed with the replacement time, especially knowing that building materials are in short supply,” Jacobson said. “It was a nice surprise.”

Jacobson said the chemicals produced at Dakota Gas were unable to be shipped while the bridge was out of service. The products most affected were tar oil, naphtha, and diesel exhaust fluid. Fertilizers were fairly unaffected.

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