BALTIMORE (AP) A stubborn fire in a downtown railroad tunnel burned for a third day Friday, and efforts to put it out and empty a leaky tanker car suffered another setback when two emergency workers fell ill.
Four workers were inspecting the tunnel and the 60-car CSX train that derailed there Wednesday afternoon when they were overcome by heat.
Four individuals went into the tunnel to do an inspection. One was overcome by heat, sat down, collapsed and called for help, said Tony White, spokesman for Mayor Martin OMalley.
The worker and a second one were pulled from the tunnel and treated at the scene, receiving oxygen. One was from the Maryland Department of the Environment and one from the South Baltimore Industrial Mutual Aid Plan, an organization that fights industrial fires.
White said the four were deep inside the 11/2-mile tunnel, where smoke continues to pour from a blaze estimated by fire officials at nearly 1,500 degrees.
The accident Wednesday ignited a raging fire, paralyzing the city, causing a water-main break, forcing postponement of Orioles baseball games at nearby Camden Yards and interrupting Internet traffic across the country because cables were damaged. One tanker began leaking acid, causing further complications.
Early Friday, firefighters wearing oxygen masks and tanks had begun attacking the fire after they removed several cars that were blocking them. Other emergency crews used hoses fed through manholes to pump hydrochloric acid from the leaking tanker car.
Firefighters said most cars from the train 45 out of the 54 remaining in the tunnel after the first were moved appeared to be connected and on the track, meaning they could be pulled out with a locomotive.
They had hoped to pull the 45 cars out Friday afternoon, but the illness of the two in the inspection crew probably pushed back that effort, officials said.
It certainly slowed down the process, fire spokesman Hector Torres said Friday afternoon. Inspectors will probably make another attempt to get back in the tunnel later Friday afternoon, he said.
The train was carrying wood, paper and hazardous materials, including hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid, which can burn the lungs if inhaled. Officials said air quality tests Wednesday and Thursday registered mostly steam and hydrocarbons, likely from burning wood. Tests for air quality were good again Friday.
So far, knock on wood, theres nothing being emitted into the air that would pose a threat to public health, OMalley said.
The leaking tanker had lost about a quarter of its 20,000-gallon load of hydrochloric acid, officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment said.
Spokesman John Verrico said the limestone base in the tunnel would help to neutralize some of the acid. Tests on water in the nearby Inner Harbor showed no acid runoff there.
Feeding a hose through a manhole, firefighters doused the tanker car to cool it before CSX workers began vacuuming out the acid into trucks on the street 50 feet above. Fire trucks sprayed a steady stream of water over the area to control vapors.
A National Transportation Safety Board team was investigating the derailment. Gov. Parris Glendening toured the scene Thursday and pledged to help bring everything back to normal.
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