Crew Struggles with Brush Fire outside of City Fire Protection

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A train with mechanical problems is believed to be the source of a number of brush fires that sprang up along a BNSF rail line in San Joaquin County, Sunday.

Spurred on by gusty winds, the brush fires belched black smoke over south Stockton for much of the afternoon, and left a small BNSF crew struggling to get control, as passenger trains whizzed by.

A spokeswoman for the railway company said they had stopped Amtrak passenger trains because of the heavy smoke, but as their crews beat the fire back from the railway, traffic started back up.

In the Whiskey Slu area of San Joaquin County, the railroad and the residents won’t be getting much help fighting the fire.

“Years ago residents and the farmers opted not to pay in for fire protection,” said resident Robert Edelman.

There are a lot of people living in this part of the county, and no homes were threatened by the fire.

It is burning alongside three massive water pipe lines.  Locals tell Fox40 those pipelines carry Hetch-Hetchy water from Yosemite to San Francisco.

Agricultural burns in this area are common, but a rail line fire isn’t.

“I’ve never seen them do this before,” Edelman said of the BNSF crews fighting the blaze.

The BNSF spokeswoman said they sent three water trucks to the fires, and they’ll stay there until all of them are contained.

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