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Trash fire embers ignite railroad ties

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A pile of railroad ties caught fire at a southwestern Bartholomew County business Friday when embers from trash burning in a nearby pit ignited the wooden beams.

The Jonesville Volunteer Fire Department received a call about 2:30 p.m. about railroad ties on fire at Legacy Excavating, 999 E. County Road 650S, Fire Chief Rick Trimpe said.

Fire trucks from the Jonesville department were on the scene within three or four minutes, he said.

“Flames shot about 20 feet in the air. You could see black smoke from (State Road) 11,” Trimpe said.

Firefighters put out the fire in about 15 minutes, Trimpe said. Jonesville received assistance from the Columbus Township, Elizabethtown, Southwest Bartholomew and Columbus fire departments.

No injuries occurred, and none of the surrounding buildings on the property was damaged, Trimpe said.

Jason Perry, co-owner of Legacy Excavating, said he was sorting railroad ties into piles with an excavator, separating good ones from bad ones from a total pile of about 4,700. The company uses the ties to maintain railroad tracks for the Louisville & Indiana Railroad and sells some for landscaping.

While Perry was sorting the ties, he was burning an old tree stump and other debris in a nearby dirt pit about 12 feet deep, Perry said. Embers from the fire set some of the ties on fire.

After firefighters put out the fire, Perry used the excavator to grab and remove charred ties from the pile so firefighters could douse them with water.

Perry said he was uncertain how many ties were damaged or the value of the damage. He estimated removing 300 before taking a break. Perry said he sells good ties for $5 apiece.

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