Authorities investigating rail car fire in Morristown

Morristown firefighter investigates burned out rail car, April 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of Morristown Department of Public Safety.
Morristown firefighter investigates burned out rail car, April 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of Morristown Department of Public Safety.
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Authorities are investigating a fire that burned a vintage rail car in Morristown early on Tuesday.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters were called to a railway siding at 114 Ridgedale Ave. at 6:44 a.m., but by then the fire mostly had burned itself out, said Morristown Public Safety Director Michael Corcoran Jr.

Corcoran said the passenger car is owned by the Morristown & Erie Railway.  The Morristown-based railway provides freight service and also operates Amtrak-certified rail cars for charter and excursion operations, according to its website.

The blaze caused extensive damage to the car, which is valued at $200,000, according to railway officials, said Corcoran.

Railway Vice President Chuck Jensen said the car was built in 1948 and served on the old New York Central line. The railway was converting it to a dining car for a private corporation that intended to use it for excursions, he said. Such projects can take anywhere from six months to years to complete, he explained.

“I hope they catch whoever did this,” Jensen said, noting that his railway’s police also are investigating.  He said the siding is “a pretty high traffic area for vagrants,” and described the passenger coach as “totaled” by the blaze.

A Morris Township resident, Adan Fuentes-Barrerra, called in the fire, and attempted to put it out with a fire extinguisher, Corcoran said.  Police Officer Brian McDonnell was the first official on the scene.

The siding is behind a car dealership and near a grounds maintenance company, which sustained damage to some pallets of rock salt, Corcoran said.

This story has been updated to include comments by a rail official.

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