Local News

Passenger: Amtrak Train Evacuation 'Ridiculous'

Posted August 25, 2007
Updated August 26, 2007

— An Amtrak train headed from New York to Miami caught fire Saturday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of more than 150 passengers in Johnston County.

No one was injured, but some of the passengers said they were not pleased with the experience. Many boarded charter buses to get to their final destinations.

“This is my first time to get on the Amtrak, and this is what happens. I’m never getting on it again,” said passenger Nilda Santos.

The train's engine room caught fire at about 4:15 p.m., Amtrak officials said. Passengers were evacuated in Micro and sent to North Johnston Middle School, according to school officials.

“The train was moving kind of slow, but when it got here, the train just started smoking,” said passenger Rick Ramsey.

“I thought it was fog in the middle of the day, but then I smelled the smoke, like rubber burning,” said passenger Sunhey Martin.

Carole Harvey said she noticed that the air-conditioning went off, and she smelled something burning.

“We stopped the train, and they made us sit here for awhile. Then they said, ‘You can get off. You’re getting right back on,’” Harvey said.

But they never got back on. William McDougle was one of the passengers who waited in the heat for more than an hour.

“All I want to do now is make it on into Fayetteville and hope my sister doesn't want to kill me when I get there. They've been waiting since 3:30,” he said.

Though Johnston County Emergency crews worked to keep people hydrated, some had a hard time keeping their cool.

“Second time I’ve done this route,” Harvey said. “Amtrak should be ashamed of themselves. This is ridiculous.”

McDougle took a different approach.

“They’re doing the best they can, really,” he said. The train was on fire, so what you had to do, you had to get off.”

As for the damaged locomotive, it was towed to a station in Wilson for repair. Passengers will have the option of having their tickets refunded, officials said.


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  • the alliance Aug 27, 2007

    Hey, stuff happens. trains have ben around for a long time, how often do you hear of one catching fire, very rarely, given the heatwave we're in , give Amtrak a brake.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Aug 27, 2007

    I like the 'Zoo Yorker' reference. I'm gonna use it. :)

    I typed in a comment and had to delete it myself.

    The roads and rails that bring a person south - also go north. If she had issues with how we do things (especially getting people off of a train that is on fire) - go back home where everything is 'perfect'.

  • RaleighMan Aug 27, 2007

    "Attention Amtrak passengers: Please line up for your long overdue dose of perspective. "

  • anti-Hans Aug 26, 2007

    Ladies and Gentleman, this is your AMTRAK spokesman speaking. For your inconvenience today, we have planned a fire. The main reason for this fire is simply to ruin your trip and see how angry we can make you.

    Give me a break lady. Be glad the train stopped. You act like they planned the fire. Be thankful you are still alive to talk about it.

  • joey2 Aug 26, 2007

    Screw 'em. Next time lock 'em in.

  • alwayslovingu30 Aug 26, 2007

    GOT SNAKES snakes on A plane/snakes in the freezer/how about A train.....Git-ER-DONE

  • Supie Aug 26, 2007

    myrrdin writes, "What I find interesting, is that people complain about negative news, but guess which stories seem to get the most comments?" lol, its amusing to see how grumpy the comments are about people who complain. Robert Byrne wrote, "what a gift God would gi'e us, to see ourselves as others see us". When one finger is pointing at the neighbor, three are pointing back at us.

  • cat976 Aug 26, 2007

    Maybe the passengers would have rather stayed on the train and burned to death!!!!!

  • shine Aug 26, 2007

    The only reason that you see derogatory comments from people on the train: they were not injured. It is funny how the unijured can find every stitch to criticize the decision makers. Had this fire started somewhere else, not only would the passengers agree to evacuate - If the worst happened then the survivors would be asking - Why did they not evacuate? It is a catch 22. Even though you may have been inconvienenced does not mean that someone was trying to keep you out of harms way.

    Take the "high road " and say "they were looking after my safety, rather than it was a not in my plans....

  • ifcdirector Aug 26, 2007

    That's incredible the comments by these passengers. I am sure that New York was in the equation here judging by what they had to say that's a given. I guess it would have been more pleasant if the crews had just let them stay on board in the smoke..........Yankees. They are a different breed aren't they?