Coverage of '01 chemical train fire

Archived coverage of the July 18, 2001, CSX freight train derailment and fire in the Howard Street Tunnel.

CSX to pay $2 million to Baltimore

Four and a half years after a derailment and fire in the Howard Street Tunnel created havoc downtown, CSX Transportation Inc. has agreed to pay Baltimore $2 million to settle the city's lawsuit against the railroad company.  Read more ...

NRC seeks to allay fear of transport

A new round of testing has found that casks used to transport dangerous nuclear waste are capable of surviving a catastrophe such as Baltimore's Howard Street Tunnel fire with no more than minor releases of radioactivity, according to a report presented to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel yesterday.  Read more ...

Revamp of rail systems sought

A new federal study commissioned after the 2001 Howard Street Tunnel fire recommends an overhaul of the city's convoluted passenger and freight systems as the only way to fix a network deemed vital to the country's transportation grid.  Read more ...

Mayor asks inspection of Howard rail tunnel

Mayor Martin O'Malley called on the federal government yesterday to conduct a new emergency inspection of the Howard Street Tunnel -- site of a large derailment and fire in 2001 -- after three cars of a CSX Transportation train left the tracks Wednesday night.  Read more ...

Rail inspectors conduct urgent survey of tunnel at city's request

The Federal Railroad Administration conducted an emergency inspection during the weekend of the Howard Street Tunnel - site of a 2001 derailment and fire in downtown Baltimore - but found no serious safety problems.  Read more ...

City, CSX readiness faulted in rail fire

Federal transportation officials said yesterday that the most likely scenario behind the 2001 train derailment and fire in Baltimore's Howard Street Tunnel "involved an obstruction between a car wheel and the rail, in combination with changes in track geometry."  Read more ...

2001 tunnel fire spurs advanced training

With memories of Baltimore's 2001 train tunnel fire still fresh in their minds, local emergency personnel began training yesterday to better understand how to respond to chemical spills and railcar fires.  Read more ...

Railroad tunnel closed after report of water leak

Train traffic through the Howard Street Tunnel was halted for nearly three hours last night after CSX train engineers noted water dripping from its ceiling - a safety concern in the wake of the train derailment, fire and water main break that shut down much of downtown Baltimore in July.  Read more ...

Derailed train linked to chemical in sewers

A flammable chemical that mysteriously appeared in Inner Harbor sewers - and may have been the cause of a manhole cover explosion Aug. 11 - came from the CSX Corp. train that derailed and caught fire three weeks earlier, the state said yesterday.  Read more ...

Howard, Lombard junction reopens

There was no ribbon to cut, but smiling city officials did the next best thing yesterday: dragging away a barrier from the junction of Howard and Lombard streets to show that the key downtown crossing was back in service.  Read more ...

Mystery of train accident unsolved

Finding out what caused last month's train derailment and fire in the CSX tunnel beneath the heart of Baltimore may turn out to be one of the most difficult challenges ever faced by the National Transportation Safety Board, experts say.  Read more ...

Howard St. repair in high gear

A lot's riding on the repair work at Howard and Lombard streets.  Read more ...

Tests to seek chemical source

Tests to seek chemical source

Authorities hope new soil and groundwater tests will show whether the flammable chemical that exploded Saturday under downtown streets leaked into city storm drains from the Howard Street Tunnel, site of last month's train derailment and fire.  Read more ...

Explosions in city still 'a mystery'

Two days after six small underground explosions rocked downtown Baltimore, authorities remained stumped yesterday as to how 1,000 gallons of a highly flammable chemical pooled beneath a major intersection without notice before blowing up.  Read more ...

Sewers, Howard tunnel connect

A few blocks west of the chemical explosion that sent manhole covers flying Saturday, Baltimore's sewer system connects to the Howard Street Tunnel where a CSX train carrying the same chemical caught fire last month, CSX officials acknowledged yesterday.  Read more ...

Train safety record declines

The derailment and fire involving a chemical-laden freight train in Baltimore last month is just the latest in a pattern of rail accidents on the rise since 1997 - about the time that a string of multibillion-dollar rail mergers left the industry financially strapped.  Read more ...

Avoiding tunnel is impractical, costly, CSX says

Any attempts to reduce the flow of hazardous chemicals through Baltimore's Howard Street Tunnel, where a chemical-laden train derailed July 18 and burned for four days under ground, would face almost insurmountable legal and practical obstacles, safety experts say.  Read more ...

Howard repairs could take 5 weeks

Now that Baltimore public works crews have completed repairs on a broken water main at Howard and Lombard streets, work to reconstruct the intersection could begin as soon as Thursday, officials said yesterday.  Read more ...

For Howard Street, it's been rough road

Pity poor Howard Street. Baltimore's once-proud commercial center has suffered all manner of indignity since the 1970s.  Read more ...

NTSB probe of tunnel derailment could take 9 months

Fires raged, chemicals leaked, smoke climbed to the sky and the possibility of an explosion was a constant worry.  Read more ...

Tunnel blame drama begins

Six days. That's how long it took before city officials began the public fingerpoint- ing in the wake of last week's CSX train derailment and tunnel fire.  Read more ...

Officials to improve city emergency plan

Baltimore fire officials said yesterday they will improve the city's hazardous materials accident plan, but they reassured the public that they are prepared to respond to chemical accidents.  Read more ...

Accident plan leaves city unprepared

Though Baltimore's emergency planners have long known that a devastating chemical accident could occur in the train tunnel under Howard Street, the city's 440-page emergency plan does not address such a problem and never mentions the tunnel.  Read more ...

Officials discuss costs of train fire

The first bills for the CSX tunnel fire began rolling in yesterday, with city officials tallying $1.3 million in expenses - the bulk of which the railroad company has agreed to pay.  Read more ...

NTSB, city sifting clues to accident

As downtown Baltimore returned to normal yesterday, federal investigators gathered evidence that could implicate a water main rupture in last Wednesday's train derailment, a theory that prompted a forceful defense from city officials.  Read more ...

After early morning trial run, freight traffic resumes in tunnel

A whiff of smoke penetrated the sealed cab of the diesel engine as Paul Rahn eased a mostly empty 29-car freight train through the fire-scorched Howard Street Tunnel yesterday.  Read more ...

Howard St., tunnel reopen

Five days after a train derailed and caught fire in a tunnel beneath Baltimore, city officials offered news last night bound to surprise and relieve commuters who had been stuck in traffic jams stretching from Baltimore's central business district to the highways feeding the city: Nearly all downtown roads will be open this morning.  Read more ...

Firefighters' heroism ...

NOT ENOUGH can be said about the outstanding job Baltimore City firefighters did in extinguishing the toxic inferno under Howard Street. With little regard for their personal safety, firefighters ventured into the heat- and fume-filled darkness of a 1.7-mile tunnel that could have collapsed from the pressure of a burst water main.  Read more ...

... Mass transit's weakness

WHILE Baltimore's train fire continued to disrupt city traffic, Maryland's transportation secretary was urging commuters to take the Metro subway.  Read more ...

'The hardest part is over'

Firefighters declared victory last night over a railroad tunnel fire they had battled for more than four days, and investigators and engineers began working to determine why the incident occurred and how long it might continue to disrupt life in Baltimore.  Read more ...

Commuters still face city snarls

Commuters should avoid driving through downtown Baltimore this morning, state transportation officials urged, noting the blocked Howard Street corridor is likely to cause major snarls.  Read more ...

Firefighters deserve high-fives and another fete

NOW THAT was a cool coincidence: "Firefighter Appreciation Day 2001" at Oriole Park fell in the midst of the diehard, underground inferno that put the city's Fire Department to an extraordinary test. Too bad many of the firefighters who deserved the tribute could not attend, though they were near Camden Yards. There will have to be another honor for those who worked so hard to end the danger posed by derailed tankers of hazmats stuck in a downtown tunnel fire that burned as hot as 1,500 degrees and turned railroad steel red.  Read more ...

Disaster experts to the rescue

The train fire in the Howard Street Tunnel was terrible for Baltimore, the CSX railroad and the Orioles. But for an elite group of companies it meant big business.  Read more ...

Today's transit

Metro: The Mass Transit Administration says the Metro is the best way to get into the city.  Read more ...

Crews remove riskiest cars

The railroad tunnel fire that disrupted downtown Baltimore for three days eased its grip yesterday as firefighters pulled out almost all of the charred rail cars trapped underground, including three derailed hazardous chemical tankers that had posed the greatest risk to the city.  Read more ...

Fire, flood and gridlock: mayor's reputation at stake

IN THE LEXICON of all big-city mayors, a cautionary tale attaches to a name: John V. Lindsay. He was the mayor of New York who couldn't take care of the basics. Handsome as a movie star, articulate as a college professor, he caused people to dream of a municipal Camelot. But the chump couldn't get the streets shoveled when it snowed.  Read more ...

'It's a little bit of hell'

Baltimore's railroad tunnel fire burned into a third night, despite the efforts of firefighters who dragged out a string of smoldering rail cars late yesterday but had to labor cautiously under a roof weakened by a water main break.  Read more ...

Chronology: With a rumble, chaos

The first sign of trouble was an unsettling rumble from beneath the streets, a trembling, grinding sensation that lasted several seconds.  Read more ...

Firms find way around major Internet artery

Technicians continued yesterday to clean up the wreckage not just in the Howard Street tunnel, but on the information superhighway.  Read more ...

Plans to repair water main hit another snag

Fixing the broken water main at Howard and Lombard streets - a breach that pushed 60 million gallons of water onto downtown streets Wednesday night - has gotten trickier.  Read more ...

CSX train fire sparks debate of stay or go

Even if you were one of the few citizens who knew what the emergency siren meant on Wednesday afternoon - that you should go home and turn on the television or radio - you were still left in the dark as to exactly what was happening.  Read more ...

These events leave a cloud over our city

IHAVE NOT had much luck thinking up a new slogan for Baltimore. But after the events of this week, I do have a new candidate for the city's mascot. That would be Joe Bfstplk the Li'l Abner comic strip character who walked around with a rain cloud over his head. Joe Bfstplk was a human jinx, wherever he went, calamity followed.  Read more ...

Burning cars in rail tunnel resist control

Baltimore firefighters waged a cautious second-day attack yesterday on a nightmarish railroad tunnel fire that shut downtown businesses, knotted traffic, upset freight service along the East Coast and Midwest and disrupted e-mails and cell phone service.  Read more ...

Rail accident linked to water main break

City public works officials believe a downtown water main burst after a fire raging in a rail tunnel below it heated the 90-year-old cast-iron pipe beyond the breaking point, turning nearby streets into rivers a foot deep.  Read more ...

Hazardous materials pass daily -- and no one knows

The train derailment and fire in the heart of Baltimore's downtown Wednesday alerted the public to an open secret among those in the know: Every day, by rail, by truck and by ship, hundreds of thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals pass through the city.  Read more ...

An all-nighter for O'Malley

It was about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley had just left the annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clambake at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield. He was in good spirits, having attended one of the state's main political gatherings.  Read more ...

Downtown stores, workers struggle after fire, flood

By 12:50 p.m. yesterday, the cash register in Annie Lee's shoe store on Howard Street hadn't rung even one sale.  Read more ...

Train derailment severs communications

When a train falls in Baltimore, it knocks out e-mail halfway around the world.  Read more ...

Tunnel fire choking East Coast rail freight

High-priority cargo found ways around Baltimore's Howard Street Tunnel yesterday, but knots in the East Coast's rail network will grow increasingly tight with each day that the major north-south artery remains closed, freight customers said.  Read more ...

Duck and cover? No, find the remote

So what do you do when the emergency siren goes off?  Read more ...

Train fire, toxic cargo shut city

Civil defense sirens wailed and major highways into Baltimore were closed after a freight train hauling hazardous chemicals caught fire yesterday afternoon in a century-old railroad tunnel under Howard Street, shutting down much of the city's downtown.  Read more ...

Firefighters battle unknown dangers

In teams of three, firefighters wearing blue oxygen tanks prepared to go into the tunnel, following a path of light from a nearby truck's headlights. They put on black face masks as an extra precaution against possibly poisonous fumes.  Read more ...

Baseball fans and commuters held hostage by road closings

The clouds of acrid black smoke that spewed from yesterday's tunnel fire made virtual prisoners of thousands of commuters and Orioles fans who were stuck downtown for hours in gridlocked traffic or in steamy bars and restaurants that had been forced to shut off their air conditioning.  Read more ...

'Hidden historical asset of Baltimore' was born of necessity

The 1.7-mile Howard Street Tunnel that billowed smoke yesterday is not a prominent part of the Baltimore landscape, not a source of great civic pride. Yet the tunnel, mostly ignored and unseen - even unknown to many residents - is hugely important, the way rail freight basically gets from here to there along the East Coast.  Read more ...

Archive: A dank relic lies below Howard St. Tunnel

As Orioles fans walk to their ballpark seats, just below their feet flows a giant freight conveyor belt, known as the Howard Street Tunnel and all but unknown to those passing overhead on the sidewalks and asphalt.  Read more ...

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