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Fire Department Addresses Disaster in Baltimore

Aired July 19, 2001 - 14:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go live to Baltimore. As we mentioned, a freight train fire and derailment in downtown Baltimore really hurt the city. It's hurt traffic into the city, it's delayed the Baltimore Orioles/Texas Rangers doubleheader today.

We're getting the latest word from the fire department on what they're doing to cool down the tunnel where the fire took place in downtown Baltimore.

We will listen in for a few moments.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...Hopefully, both will get done. In six hours, we will be in a situation where we have three of those tankers out of the tunnel.

Obviously, this does impact the Oriole game, and the decision, again, made earlier -- originally the plan was to make a decision at 3:00, but the Orioles decided, based on the information that they have received, to go ahead and cancel tonight's game.

We have some information about some of the runoff from -- from the situation. I want to bring up the Coast Guard in just a second. Let me also make an announcement that housing is providing some representatives, and we are concerned about Sutton Place, Chase House and Mount Royal Towers.

And managers will check on the senior citizens in these high- rises on a regular basis, and they will be working with housing representatives and the building inspectors as well.

At this time, I'd like to bring up the Coast Guard to give you an update on the situation with the water.

LT. RUSS BOWMAN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Thank you. Lieutenant Russ Bowman, U.S. Coast Guard. Coast Guard representatives from other federal agencies have been here assisting Baltimore city with the response to this incident. Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is cooperating with the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Maryland Department of the Environment to work with contractors who have been hired by CSX to conduct water and air monitoring, and this is to find out if any of the runoff from both the fire suppression efforts and from the break in the water lines is getting into the waterways through the outfalls.

Now, three outfalls have been identified as being connected back to the areas of concern in the tunnels. Those are at Light Street, actually right at Harbor Place in Baltimore's inner harbor, Stockholm Street, which is near the city animal shelter, and almost adjacent to that at Utah Street. We've been conducting both, as I mentioned, air and water monitoring, Ph tests, Ph scale of zero to 14 -- zero being acidic, 14 being basic, 7 being neutral.

We had a slight fluctuation in the acidic direction at Harbor Place. It was down to reading of 4.1. That was a couple of hours ago. As recently as a half-hour ago, that has gone back up to 6.0, more in the normal range. And we are continuing to monitor that on literally a continuous basis, to see if anything is getting into the water and at what rate.

The other readings are much more in the normal realm. Can't substantiate that anything has come out of the outfalls at Stockholm Street.

ALLEN: As you can see, further ramifications from this freight train derailment and fire which happened yesterday in Baltimore, which affected so much of the city. Power was knocked out after a water main break. Commuter traffic, of course, is stalled. And since it has happened near Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles will not be playing a double-header today with the Texas Rangers, that has been postponed indefinitely.

As we heard from the fire department, they are going to attempt to pull out two cars from this tunnel, and they are trying to get to another car that is still loaded with hazardous material, hydrochloric acid, and offload that material. So, this big story in Baltimore continues today as they try to get the city back on track -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Yes, those fumes that we were just showing there, Natalie, of potentially dangerous materials, including the hydrochloric acid you mentioned. This train, a 60-car train, much more than half-a-mile long, catching fire after some kind of problem, possibly a derailment in a mile-long tunnel right under the center of the city. So, the city crippled. Not just a train accident, but an entire city brought to its knees by this development underneath the city grounds.

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