According to the train crew, the museum's 1950 EMD GP7 locomotive #1026 experienced an exhaust system fire as a group of about 50 passengers were being transported. The crew immediately closed off the exhaust system, but not before soot and embers floated into an open caboose used on the ride. Seven children ages 4-11 sustained what emergency services and museum personnel described as small first- and second-degree burns, quarter-sized or smaller. All affected passengers were treated and released at the scene.
“Our first concern is always the safety of our guests, and it is a relief to know that the response to this incident went so smoothly," said museum administrator Randy Pirkle in a released statement. "Museum personnel quickly killed the fire and assisted the passengers from the train; the daycare staff worked with our team to keep the children calm and see to immediate care until the EMS arrived."
"We are grateful that the injuries to our guests were minor, and that all of the participants were treated and released without the need for further emergency care," he added.
The train ride, which has been in operation since the early 1990s without any passenger injuries, will remain out of service until the incident investigation is complete and until museum officials can ensure there will not be a reoccurrence. The rest of the museum, including the miniature train ride, will remain open.
A statement released by the museum concluded, "As both a history museum and an operating railroad, the Museum maintains its operating fleet to manufacturer specifications. This retains the historic character of the locomotives while ensuring the safety of Museum guests."
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