Durango & Silverton shut down extended to June 30

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A Durango & Silverton train approaches the water tank at Hermosa, Colo., in May 2016.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
DURANGO, Colo. — The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad announced Tuesday that the iconic Rio Grande route will remain closed until at least June 30 while a wildfire continues to rage in the mountains of southwest Colorado.

The railroad has been closed since June 1 when a wildfire was discovered near Hermosa, not far from the D&SNG main line. Since then, the 416 Fire has scorched more than 23,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 2,100 homes.

“The D&SNGRR, in conjunction with local agencies, authorities, and other prominent community leaders and stakeholders, continues to evaluate the feasibility of launching limited-range diesel locomotive passenger service later in the summer, once it is safe to do so,” railroad officials say.
“After those plans are fully determined, the railroad will publicly announce all relevant details, including fares, schedules, and itineraries, associated with this new passenger service.”

All passengers impacted by the shutdown will receive a full-refund, officials say.

The railroad has furloughed approximately 150 employees because of the fire. The impact of the blaze has also been felt far beyond Colorado. Last week, D&SNG’s parent company, American Heritage Railways, announced it was shutting down Washington’s Mount Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum until August to “optimize” the organization’s resources.

It is unclear how much longer the fire will burn near Durango, although the larger it gets the more likely it will require a season-ending weather event to contain. Michael Charnick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, tells Trains Newswire that while some rain is in the forecast for the weekend, it will not be enough to douse the blaze for good. However, Colorado’s traditional monsoon season is on track to start in late-July or early August.

More than 900 firefighters are battling the blaze that has cost, as of Tuesday morning, more than $9.2 million to contain. A Type 1 Incident Management team took over firefighting efforts on Saturday morning, signifying that the blaze is one of the most complex and concerning wildfires in the nation.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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