• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 26s

Crews pulling plane fuselages from Montana river after train derailment

By CBS/AP 3:52 PM July 7, 2014
MISSOULA, Mont. –

Three airplane fuselages that slid down a steep embankment into the Clark Fork River following a train derailment in western Montana could take until Tuesday to remove, railroad officials said Sunday.

“The progress is going extremely slow,” Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost said. “If we get one up today, it would appear it will take one day each to get them out.”

She said a crew of 50 with eight heavy-equipment machines was working together to hoist up the three Boeing 737 fuselages, the large, central portions of planes that hold passengers.

Six fuselages were aboard a westbound train when 19 cars derailed Thursday about 10 miles west of Alberton. The three remaining plane sections also fell off but stayed on land. No one was injured in the derailment, which is under investigation.

Boeing said in a statement that it has experts at the scene to assess the damage. Marc Birtel, director of media relations, said Sunday that he didn’t have information on what the experts have decided.

The fuselages were traveling from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, to a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, to be assembled into airliners.

Ken Evans, senior manager for Spirit AeroSystems, said the company ships 42 of the 737 fuselages each month to Washington state.

“We’re at a record rate right now,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for decades, and this is exactly how they’ve been shipped for decades.”

None of the companies involved offered an estimate of the damage.

Frost of Montana Rail Link said insurance considerations won’t be decided until the investigation is complete. She said the train was traveling well under the 35 mph speed limit for that section of track.

Meanwhile, rafters on the popular Clark Fork River have a surreal view as they pass the fuselages near a river feature called Mermaid Rock.

“They really get to see the enormous size of those aircraft,” said Josh Flanagan of Wiley E. Waters, a rafting company. “It’s not something you expect to float past when you’re on a river trip.”

Jason Shreder, who owns a company that offers guided rafting trips on the river, told CBS affiliate KXLH that his business hasn’t been hurt despite the unusual incident.

“Trains come through here often and they’re pretty noisy, so when we heard the derailment we knew something was wrong,” Shreder said. “Because we’d been out here, we’d seen that there was adequate safety and that there really was a very low risk. So it was great that they re-opened the river because this is the time of year you want to be on the river.”

David Shearer posted a video on YouTube showing a group of rafters coming across the fuselages in the river on July 4th:

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Troopers: No plans to intervene in Newtok leadership dispute

    by Associated Press on Feb 05, 12:26

    Alaska State Troopers say they don’t know who the rightful tribal leaders are in a western Alaska village, so they’ve taken no action weeks after a federal judge said the agency could use force to evict former leaders involved in a prolonged power struggle there. The Jan. 12 ruling was in response to a request […]

  • News

    AST looking for missing North Pole woman

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 05, 12:22

    Alaska State Troopers are searching for a 31-year-old woman missing from North Pole. AST received a report of a missing person just before 3 a.m. Friday morning. A release identified the woman as Samantha Bergman, who went missing from her home around 5 p.m. Thursday. Troopers believe that Bergman is still in the North Pole area. […]

  • News

    Man escapes from Fairbanks halfway house

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 05, 11:51

    Troopers say a man escaped from a Fairbanks halfway house Thursday night — by simply walking away. According to a release, Northstar Center contacted the Alaska State Troopers to report that 24-year-old Byron Toovak had “walked away from the facility.” AST’s investigation found that Byron left the facility sometime between 8:45 and 11:15 Thursday night. […]

  • News

    AK Attorney General, Sen. Dan Sullivan will pursue charges against Bill Allen

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 05, 11:38

      ANCHORAGE — U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards announced Friday morning they are actively pursuing charges against Bill Allen for alleged sexual abuse of at least one young Alaska woman. At a press conference, they stated they believe Allen should be charged for violations of the Mann Act, a federal law making it […]

  • News

    Hanley: No ‘sour grapes’ over resigning as education chief

    by Associated Press on Feb 05, 10:52

    Outgoing state education commissioner Mike Hanley says he had some professional disagreements with the state board of education. He says that’s not a “sour grapes statement.” Hanley says the board has chosen a different path that requires someone else as commissioner. He says he honors and respects that. Gov. Bill Walker has said that Hanley […]

  • News

    Report: Police acted properly in incident with autistic man

    by Associated Press on Feb 05, 8:44

    An independent investigation into a physical encounter between Kodiak police officers and an autistic man has determined that the three officers responded professionally. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports the city hired Soldotna-based consultant Greg Russell to investigate the Sept. 16 incident involving the officers and Nick Pletnikoff. Russell’s report, acquired by the Kodiak newspaper on Monday, […]

  • News

    Delta Junction votes to keep pot industry out of city

    by Associated Press on Feb 05, 8:38

    The Delta Junction City Council has approved a ban on marijuana businesses in the city 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Mayor Pete Hallgren said Wednesday that city officials aren’t looking to prohibit marijuana operations outside the city’s jurisdiction, although the ban extends 10 miles outside city limits per state regulations. […]

  • News

    Trooper injured when truck collides with patrol car near Palmer

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 05, 8:33

    An Alaska State Trooper was injured while investigating a vehicle in a ditch Thursday night in Palmer when an oncoming truck spun out of control and struck the patrol vehicle. The trooper responded just after 9:30 p.m. to a report of a car in the ditch near mile 12.5 of the Old Glenn Highway. According […]