The Summit Tunnel fire was allegedly the biggest tunnel fire of history, and a possible psyop taking place on December 20, 1984 near Manchester, United Kingdom.
A 13 tanker train derails 10 tankers in a tunnel near Manchester, United Kingdom. Temperatures reach 1530 C in the biggest tunnel fire in history, but surprise-surprise; "the damage was minimal".
|• On 20 December 1984 a dangerous goods train passing through the Summit Tunnel on the Greater Manchester/West Yorkshire border, caught fire on the rail line between Littleborough and Todmorden, England.|
• The train involved was the 01:40 freight train from Haverton Hill, Teesside to Glazebrook oil distribution terminal in Merseyside. It was formed by class 47 diesel locomotive 47 125 and 13 tankers.
• At 05:50 on 20 December 1984, the train, carrying more than 1,000,000 litres (220,000 imp gal; 260,000 US gal) (835 tonnes or 822 long tons or 920 short tons) of four-star petrol in thirteen tankers, entered the tunnel on the Yorkshire (north) side travelling at 40 miles per hour (64 km/h).
• One-third of the way through the tunnel, a defective axle bearing (journal bearing) derailed the fourth tanker, which caused the derailment of those behind. Only the locomotive and the first three tankers remained on the rails. One of the derailed tankers fell on its side and began to leak petrol into the tunnel. Vapour from the leaking petrol was probably ignited by the damaged axle box.
• Crews from Greater Manchester Fire Brigade and West Yorkshire Fire Brigade quickly attended the scene. Co-ordination between the brigades appears to have worked well, perhaps because they had both participated in an emergency exercise in the tunnel a month before.
• The train crew were persuaded to return to the train, where they uncoupled the three tankers still on the rails and used the locomotive to drive them out.
• Left to itself, the fire burned as hot as it could. As the walls warmed up and the air temperature in the tunnel rose, all 10 tankers discharged petrol vapour from their pressure relief valves. Two tankers melted (at approximately 1,530 °C or 2,790 °F) and discharged their remaining loads as floods.
• The fuel supply to the fire was so rich that some of the combustibles were unable to find oxygen inside the tunnel with which to burn; they were instead ejected from vent shafts 8 and 9 as superheated, fuel-rich gases that burst into flame the moment they encountered oxygen in the air outside. At the height of the fire, pillars of flame approximately 45 metres (148 ft) high rose from the shaft outlets on the hillside above.
• Unable to get close enough to safely fight the fire directly, the fire brigades forced high-expansion foam into ventilation shafts far from the fire. This created blockages that starved the fire of oxygen. By mid-afternoon the next day, the inferno was no longer burning, though the fire was by no means knocked down. Petrol continued to leak from the derailed wagons through the tunnel drainage and ballast and the vapour sporadically reignited when it came into contact with the hot tunnel lining.
• Two hundred people were evacuated from their homes and workplaces in Walsden in response. They were allowed back home the next day.
• The brigades continued to fight the fire for another two days, until West Yorkshire Fire Brigade issued the stop message just after 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Fire crews remained at the site until 7 January 1985.
• The damage done by the fire was minimal. Approximately half a mile of track had to be replaced, as did all the electrical services and signalling. The biggest surprise was how well the brick lining had stood up to the fire. Although some bricks in the tunnel and in the blast relief shafts had become so hot that they vitrified and ran like molten glass, most of the brickwork lining of the tunnel was scorched but still serviceable.
• The luck of those who fought it: the BR train crew who returned to the site to rescue a locomotive and three tankers left the fire site shortly before one of the other petrol tankers filled the tunnel with flames. The firefighters in BA sets who were in the tunnel when it filled with flames were saved because blast relief shafts 8 and 9 acted as flame vents (a function their designer never envisaged).
- Video from British media
- The flames certainly look real and close to houses. But we don't get any inside evidence of the tunnel scorched.
- Why were the highly photogenic flames only emerging from two of the 12 operational vents in the tunnel? Where are the photos of the wrecked tank wagons being recovered? [evacuate the area to ensure no awkward photos are produced].[ab 2]
- If the temperature is so hot in an open tunnel that tankers are melting, then they wouldn't "discharge" the petrol as "floods", it would burn immediately away.[ab 1]
- Right, tanker volcanoes near Manchester.[ab 1]
- So we have an open tunnel from both sides and several ventilation shafts (for the old steam trains), but somehow there was not "enough oxygen"? Any witnesses for this more-than-spectacular view of 45 metre high flames?[ab 1]
- Typical schizo-wiki writing... The fire reached a whopping 1530 degrees C but actually nothing really happened. With "minimal damage". 45 metre high volcanoes, but "surprise, surprise", nothing to see here, move on folks...[ab 1]
- Ah yes, of course, you have 1 million litres of petrol in 10 tankers in a blazing inferno melting tankers in a tunnel, but two little vents solved the whole problem. We all know fires never spread horizontally... The biggest tunnel fire of history, but with minimal damage.[ab 1]