Train Starts Fires Along Tracks in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. --

A freight train sparking along train tracks started a series of brush fires in Orlando Monday.

The worst, officials say, was along South Orange Avenue (see map) and some other trains had to be stopped as firefighters scrambled to save buildings from burning.

Heavy flames and thick black smoke to blew into the Discovery Church in Orlando.

"That particular pile of wood began to really ignite, so it got a little scary,' said a witness.

Orlando and Orange County firefighters arrived and put water on a stack of spare railroad ties that acted like kindling for the fire.

Investigators think sparks from a passing freight train started it all.

"The sparks just from the rail on the track and the wheel of the train rubbing against it can let out sparks if there's any debris on it. From what I understand from CSX, a lot of times even out of the exhaust it can put out sparks," said an official.

In 1998, similar sparks from a train in the same area caused a raging, five-alarm fire that destroyed a business.

However, this time firefighters also had to worry about an on-coming Amtrak train, but they were able to stop it on the tracks before it reached the burning area.

Church members say they're just grateful the flames didn't do any damage.

"I would say they were probably 15 to 20 feet in the air and had they continued, it would've been much worse," said one church member.

The Orange County Fire Rescue continued to work a couple of small hot spots Monday afternoon, but CSX re-opened the tracks for train travel.

The Amtrak train that had to be stopped was headed from Jacksonville to Miami and was delayed about 40 minutes.

No buildings were involved and there were no injuries.

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