Jack Walker Published

Harpers Ferry Rail Bridge Catches Fire, Temporarily Suspending Service

In front of a wooded background, men in neon yellow clothing stand on a bridge, examining rail lines. A truck carrying supplies is parked on the bridge with them.
After a rail bridge over the Potomac River caught fire Monday, CSX workers spent the following morning and early afternoon replacing damaged rail.
Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bridge that transports CSX trains into Harpers Ferry caught fire Monday afternoon, causing significant structural damage and halting rail services.

CSX Spokesperson Bryan Tucker said the cause of the fire remains unknown, but that no injuries were reported.

Tucker said CSX was notified of a fire around 3:45 p.m. Emergency personnel reported that the fire was under control by 5:30 p.m.

After an inspection of the bridge’s structural integrity, CSX teams worked overnight to replace rail and railroad ties damaged by the fire, Tucker said.

The fire canceled MARC service (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) to Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg, as well as Amtrak’s Capitol Limited.

Rail services remained suspended until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, when CSX team members restored one of the bridge’s rail lines. Tucker said repairs to the second line were completed by noon.

Railroad tracks lead into a tunnel carved into a mountainside. Trees with green leaves surround the tracks on either side. A car is parked on the railroad tracks in the distance, with men in neon yellow garments beside it.
The bridge that caught fire Monday transports CSX trains between Washington County, Maryland and Harpers Ferry.

Photo Credit: Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After the fire was reported Monday, local first responders arrived on the scene and found “a large fire on the bridge that looked to be spreading quickly,” according to a press release from the Washington County Division of Emergency Services in Maryland.

The first responders requested additional support from emergency personnel in Jefferson County, as well as Washington County, Maryland.

First responders from Washington County requested two boats “as a safety precaution” because crews were working “on an elevated structure above the Potomac River,” according to the press release.

Personnel called in additional emergency response units from the two counties, as well as Frederick County, Maryland. This was because of “high temperatures,” “extensive damage” and “limited water supply access,” the Division said.

Tucker said CSX will continue looking into the cause of the fire, and thanked first responders for their support.

A train travels along railroad tracks, surrounded by trees with green leaves. The train is visible from the back, with the caboose traveling away. A sidewalk is also visible on its side.
After an inspection and hours of repair from CSX workers, rail services in Harpers Ferry resumed by noon Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting