Train derailment forces Boundary County to issue emergency ordinance restricting access to boat launch

BNSF train in Kootenai River
Photo courtesy Idaho State Police

BOUNDARY CO. Idaho — The Boundary County Commissioners declared a state of local emergency on Thursday and issued an emergency ordinance to restrict boat traffic after a train derailed into the Kootenai River.

The Boundary County Sheriff’s Office received a call about the derailment around 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The caller reported the front engine of the train was in the river and several crew members were trapped inside.

The derailment happened 10 miles east of Bonner Ferry. BNSF confirmed to 4 News Now that three crew members were rescued and uninjured in the derailment, which involved a manifest train carrying several types of cargo.

RELATED: BNSF train derails into Kootenai River, crew members rescued by sheriff’s boat

The train was traveling from Minnesota to Pasco. An initial report indicated a rock slide caused the three locomotives and one car to leave the tracks. One locomotive went into the water and has leaked an unknown amount of diesel into the river. BNSF officials said containment booms were placed in the river to catch the fuel.

Additionally, heavy equipment was being brought to the scene to help rescue the locomotives and rebuild the line. The line involved is BNSF’s main line and all travel has been shutdown through the area.

According to a notice from the Boundary County Commissioners, emergency services workers have responded to the scene to determine environmental hazards that may have resulted, along with containment efforts.

During the process of the investigation and possible environmental hazard clean-up work, all civilian and non-emergency boat traffic is prohibited from the Deep Creek Boat Launch until January 8. Additionally, all emergency activities have closed the Rocky Point Boat Launch to all non-emergency vehicles and boats.

Anyone who violates the order is subject to a misdemeanor charge, fine and time in jail.