Rockland County officials vow to hold CSX accountable for wildfire

Marcus Solis Image
Friday, April 21, 2023
Rockland County officials expect CSX to be "accountable" for wildfire
Officials in Rockland County expect the CSX rail line to be responsible for the wildfires that impacted more than 50 acres across the county. Marcus Solis has more.

ROCKLAND COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- Officials in Rockland County vow to hold the CSX rail line responsible for the series of brush fires that impacted the county last week.

Authorities believe sparks from the rail line's train sparked the fires that threatened homes and residents.

In response, Rockland County officials are now demanding that CSX reimburse anyone affected by the fires.

"We expect them to hold their end up to be accountable to the people of this community," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

Earlier in the week, Rockland County officials had a conference call with railroad officials expressing frustration that CSX had yet to publicly acknowledge one of its trains likely sparked the blaze that consumed 70 acres and threatened homes. Investigators say CSX has yet to provide video from the train and other materials.

In a statement, CSX only goes so far to say "at least some aspects of the fires appear to have ignited around the time in which our train came through the area. The source of the ignition is still unclear."

Lawmakers say they will seek new regulations requiring CSX to immediately report fires near its trains, as well as introduce legislation with steeper fines.

They are also demanding municipalities and property owners are fully reimbursed.

Nearly two dozen fires broke out last Friday, burning from Tompkins Cove to Congers, as temperatures soared nearly 90 degrees.

On Wednesday, New York State Senator Bill Webber introduced a bill that would amends the state's transportation law, and as a result increase the penalties for violations of the rules and regulations related to braking systems, steering components, coupling devices and the transportation of hazardous materials.


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