Miss. Firefighters Blocked by Train, House Burns

PEARL, Miss. --

Pearl residents said the damage from a house fire could have been averted if the house were not on the wrong side of some railroad tracks.

On Friday night, at the height of the severe weather, the home on Deeb Street burned and firefighters were kept from getting there because of a train stalled on the tracks, residents said. Pearl fire investigators believe a lightning strike sparked the fire.

No one was home when the fire started, fire officials said.

Lori Lowry used to play at the home when she was a child. On Monday, she took pictures of the charred remains. Lowry said the problems caused by stalled trains are not new.

"It wasn't too long ago, a man was having a heart attack and the ambulance couldn't get through," Lowry said.

Residents said they have complained before. Not only because of problems they said they have in getting out of the neighborhoods in the area, but in getting emergency crews in.

"We always get stopped by the train -- nonstop," resident Angela Adkins said. "And it stops to where people can't get back."

Kansas City Southern Railway Company operates the train tracks. WAPT's Scott Simmons asked the company who's accountable.

"KCSR is working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to develop and implement plans for a grade separation at Pearson Road to ensure that either Pearson Road or Deeb Street is always open to motorists," said C. Doniele Carlson in a statement from the company.

Pearl Fire Chief Carl Kibby said a secondary crew was routed to the fire on Friday from a different direction. But the train crossing is a problem, he said.

"When we start dealing with people who need oxygen, time is of an essence, and we need to get in and start treating these people," Kibby said. "Having the train tracks that travel east to west, we deal with a bit of delay accessing that area."

Pearl officials said they are working on a crossover that would elevate traffic over the tracks, but residents want help soon, before someone's life depends on getting across the tracks during an emergency.

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