Suspicious Phoenixville railroad tie fire under investigation

PHOENIXVILLE — Burning railroad ties Saturday afternoon created black smoke visible throughout town and drew crews from the Phoenixville Fire Department.

A pile of approximately 30 wooden track ties were found burning in woods near the Cedar Hollow Recycling Facility on Paradise Street by an employee of the facility. That employee called the fire in, said Phoenixville Fire Chief John Buckwalter.

Three different fires were found in the area, with the most serious in the railroad ties, the Phoenixville Fire Department’s website said.

“It burned probably three-quarters of an acre,” Buckwalter said. “We actually had some guys from the recycling center come up and rip up the ties with a backhoe. The fire was pretty deep-seated in there.”

A water tanker from the recycling facility was also used in the effort to put out the fire, the fire department’s website said.

Crews were able to bring the fire under control within 20 minutes, according to Buckwalter, but stayed for overhaul for at least 40 minutes after that.

Buckwalter said the ties were likely left from when the railroad tracks were torn up years ago.

Chester County Fire Marshal Harrison Holt was notified of the fire and the Phoenixville Police also took part in the investigation.

Currently, the cause of the fire is labeled as “suspicious.”

Police reportedly searched the area Saturday for anyone who may have started the fire but no suspects were turned up.

Saturday was a busy day for the Phoenixville Fire Department, with four calls, in total, going out to fire crews, Buckwalter said.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.