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Accident Report Detail

Derailment, Apache Railway Company

Executive Summary

At approximately 8:00 p.m., mountain standard time, on January 27, 1997, Apache Railway train APA No. 81 derailed 46 cars, 2 miles south of Holbrook, Arizona. The 46 cars were part of a 78-car train. The crew was removing one car from the train when the remainder of the train rolled down a 1.7-percent descending grade, finally derailing on a 6 degree curve. Two tank cars derailed. One tank car containing hydrogen peroxide was compromised and released its entire contents. A fire ignited in the wreckage; it was generally confined to cars containing waste paper. Local emergency responders evacuated 150 people from a nearby residential area until the morning of January 28, 1997. There were no fatalities or injuries. Damages were estimated at $2.06 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the conductor's closing of the angle cock and bottling the air on the remaining portion of the train which prevented the emergency brakes from being applied. Contributing to the accident was the engineer supporting the actions of the conductor.

Accident Location: Holbrook , AZ    
Accident Date: 1/27/1997
Accident ID: LAX97FR005

Date Adopted: 4/23/1998
NTSB Number: RAB-98-01
NTIS Number:  

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