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Another Fire Strikes Busch Gardens
Classic Steam Train Engine Damaged
By Nancy E. Sheppard

FireBG ImageOn Thursday, August 16, at approximately 3:30 P.M., Busch Gardens Williamsburg was dealt another blow of bad luck when a fire broke out behind the Caribou Train Station in the New France hamlet of the park. Guests were immediately evacuated from the hamlet while the James City County Fire Department rushed to the scene.

Balmoral Castle, one of the original steam train engines to the park ("the blue train”) modeled after those designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, was sitting on a spur behind the station when the fire broke out. Guests witnessed bright red flames and black smoke leaping into the air as the fire engulfed the train’s engine and water tender. The James City County Fire Department was able to contain and put out the fire fairly quickly, but the hamlet remained closed. One park employee was injured in the accident, but it does not appear that the injury was serious.

Investigators later determined that the fire was caused by a propane leak. When an engineer went to check the engine’s valves, something ignited the propane. Park officials believe the damage to be purely cosmetic but an assessment will still be performed to determine repairability of the train. Until such time, the train attraction will be closed indefinitely.

The accident came on the heels of a previous fire this past July, at the attraction, Escape from Pompeii, which shut down the ride for several days while the its safety was determined and repairs were performed. The attraction has since reopened and the fire was determined to be accidental.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has an impeccable safety record, with their attractions inspected regularly. Despite the challenges the park has faced over this season, it is evident that their guests’ and employees’ safety is of paramount concern for park management and officials. With injuries and accidents very few and far between, park patrons can be assured that their visit to Busch Gardens will not only be fun, but safe.

 





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