The owner of a famous tourist railroad in Colorado is making plans to keep his trains running during periods of high fire danger.
The engines that currently run on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in southwest Colorado are fueled by coal. Coal-fired engines can produce sparks that could ignite a wildfire.
This summer, the railroad shut down for over a month while a huge wildfire raged and local officials enacted fire restrictions that banned coal-fired engines.
The famous trains draw a lot of tourists and the shutdown was a big economic hit.
Railroad owner Al Harper tells the Durango Herald he plans to spend as much as $6 million on oil- and diesel-powered engines that will stand in for the coal-fired engines as needed.
Harper called it a “momentous task” and vowed that the railroad would “never be shut down again for fires.”
There has been speculation that the Durango & Silverton’s historic steam trains were the culprit behind the 416 Fire, but no cause has been determined yet. Officials are still investigating what sparked the 84.5 square mile fire — the state’s sixth largest.
The Durango Herald notes that Harper accepts that the train may be a possible cause and asked for patience until the investigation is complete.
Read More: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Bolsters Fleet For Dry Years (via DurangoHerld.com)