Friday marked the 20th anniversary of the Weyauwega train derailment. On March 4th, 1996, just before 6 A.M., a fractured bolt in a rail on the city’s north side caused 37 cars to derail. Those cars contained Propane, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Sodium Hydroxide. Three of them ruptured, causing a huge fire that could be seen for several miles. Waupaca County Emergency Management Director Andy Carlin was working for Apple Ambulance Service at the time, but was a member of the hazmat team that responded to the scene (Sound byte).
Somehow, there were no fatalities from the derailment and subsequent fire. Carlin says those on the scene all know how lucky they were (Sound byte)
17-hundred residents of the City of Weyauwega, and 600 others from the surrounding area were evacuated for nearly 3 weeks. In the 20 years since the accident, Carlin says emergency personnel have become more aware of just what types of materials are being carried by rail, and how to deal with them if there is an accident (Sound byte). The final cost of the derailment and class action suit was around 28 million dollars.