ParkTales

 

Columnist Frances Sedgwick scoops the national media
 
with a photo-story of fire that stopped VIA train service
 
 
By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.
On VIA, near Brockville and Kingston — On my way home by Via Rail from Ottawa, Tuesday, March 27, I was witness to a spectacular fire along the Via Rail Route.
 
In the middle of nowhere, it seemed, but as I discovered later, just east of Kingston, the train came to a complete stop.
 
After a few minutes an employee came down the isle explaining that there was a fire on the side of the train tracks and that there were police and fire officials present. He said the fire hoses were across the train tracks so we would have to stop here for awhile.
 
We didn't think much of this and strained our necks to see if we could see anything. No.
 
Then someone said there's the fire. It looked like a small bush fire. Everyone rushed to see this small fire.
 
But as we watched it, all of sudden the fire spread so fast, just like a streak of light right along a straight line parallel to the tracks. Far enough away from the train not to cause alarm. Although at times we wondered.
 
Some passengers were nervous and said, "Shouldn't we back up?" The staff assured us not to worry everyone is on top of this.
 
As great clouds of black smoke circled up I must admit I got worried. But of  course we could just hop off the train.
 
A passenger across from me panicked and got on his cell phone. I could hear him saying, "We are on train 54 and there is a fire around us." I hoped he wasn't calling 911.  But he kept on talking in a panic.
 
I assured him everything was okay, after all, all we needed to do was get off the train.
 
We watched as the fire spread along one straight line and then another beside it, both parted by a long stretch of swampland.
 
What a spectacle it was. Luckily I had my camera and with the help of a nice young man I took pictures.
 
After we felt secure we all marvelled at this scene as we watched the two rows of flames.
 
At that moment the train started up again. 
 
Then we heard an announcement that we would be delayed just under an hour in reaching Toronto.
 
As the train proceeded we could look at the extent of this small fire becoming this flaming view, especially because it was now dark.
 
As we travelled on and a staff member was watching with us, I asked, why are there two rows of flames.
 
"They say that is a swamp out there," he said, "and that is why it didn't get to the tracks. It was blocked by the swamp." 
 
The flames were on both sides of the swamp. And the swamp was right along Lake Ontario.
 
I said I took some pictures do you want to see them. He replied yes, and said , great pic now you have a great souvenir of the event.
 
We arrived a Union Station just under an hour late.
 
Darn said I, if we had been more than an hour late we would have got a discount on our next trip.
 
The staff member who helped me off the train said, your right, just under an hour.

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