Officials with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway have blamed “thermal misalignment from extreme temperatures” as the cause of a June 2 train derailment in Denair.
Thermal misalignment, or sun kink, is caused by extreme heat that causes a steel rail to kink or buckle. It was 96 degrees on the day of the derailment.
Reports indicate that numerous eyewitnesses claim the freight train was traveling too fast, however BNSF says the investigation found the train to be traveling at safe speeds.
While the derailment did not cause any injury or hazardous spills, it did cause damage to several storage units and destroyed several more at Denair Self Storage. Also, about 10 passenger trains were impacted by the subsequent closure and buses were called in to take passengers from Modesto to Merced around the crash site.
The train that derailed was pulling 76 cars and 10 went off the track.
Freight train service was resumed the next day, June 3, by late afternoon.
Freight Train Derails in Denair, Railroad Crossings Blocked
Derailed Train Crashed Into Denair Self Storage. 06-02-13
Photo: Robert Fernandes