Multiple wildfires in Northern California have caused “significant damage” to BNSF’s rail infrastructure in the area, and the threat isn’t over yet.
BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B) suspended rail operations between Stockton, California, and Klamath Falls, Oregon, because of wildfires in the region. But one blaze, the Dixie fire, is only 23% contained, and it is moving closer to BNSF’s main line between Almanor and Keddie, California, BNSF said in a Wednesday service advisory.
The Dixie fire has already burned nearly 218,000 acres and caused mandatory evacuations. The fire is also “an ongoing threat to multiple rail lines, several bridges and tunnels,” BNSF said.
Forecast weather conditions are showing no relief in sight. The National Weather Service has heat advisories and excessive heat warnings in place for eastern Washington and northern Idaho, as well as portions of western Oregon and Northern California, reported FreightWaves meteorologist Nick Austin on Thursday.
BNSF said it has deployed two fire trains to the area to protect structures with water and other fire retardants, and teams are working with local crews to suppress the fires.
Because of the fires, BNSF has rerouted trains in the Pacific Northwest-California network, and customers should expect delays. There is no current estimate available regarding service restoration in the area, BNSF said.
“Operations teams have implemented procedures to reroute affected Pacific Northwest-California train flows. Some trains are now moving through the central Rockies, and even on some longer routes further east, to reach their destinations,” BNSF said. “Customers tracing their freight may notice nonstandard routings, locations and interchanges. In addition to resource challenges due to the additional traffic on these alternate routes, this rerouting is resulting in longer overall transit times by several days compared to normal conditions.”
Earlier this week, BNSF competitor Union Pacific also noted that the wildfires in Northern California were affecting portions of its network. UP (NYSE: UNP) said more than 80 large fires have been burning in 13 states across the Western U.S., totaling more than 1.3 million acres of damage to date, according to a Tuesday service advisory.