GLEN ROCK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An investigation is underway into a dozen mystery blazes, all possibly started by a New Jersey Transit work train over the weekend.
Firefighters from across Bergen County had their hands full, and so did local homeowners who were forced to take action to deal with the brush fires.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, huge flames broke out right next to NJ TRANSIT’s Main Line tracks and backyard fences were set on fire for nearly a mile.
“I heard what I thought was fireworks, I didn’t think it was fire. I smelled smoke, but the crackling of the fence was really loud,” David Martinez said.
Martinez took a picture of his father using a garden hose to douse the flames that destroyed a section of their fence at about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday on Valley Road. The same thing happened to some of his neighbors who live along the tracks.
“All along here there were fires,” he said. “It was just a lot of chaos, it was pretty scary.”
Before firefighters arrived, neighbors used hoses and buckets. Officials confirmed that they had to handle at least twelve blazes along a mile of the tracks after an NJ TRANSIT work train — possibly dragging something metal underneath it — apparently sent sparks flying into the dry brush nearby.
“This already was smoking like crazy, there was smoke all over the place,” Inge Goldhill said.
Goldhill lives at a senior housing complex just feet away from one of the fires that charred bushed and destroyed a utility pole. She wants answers from NJ TRANSIT.
“I hope they find out soon what it was, if they drag something along that sparks I mean, shouldn’t they be aware of it?” she said.
No one from NJ TRANSIT would answer CBS2’s questions on camera, but they have identified the work train that was hauling rocks to Upstate New York and confirmed an investigation is underway.
A spokesperson also admitted there were witnesses on a passing commuter train who said the work train may have been dragging something.
“I definitely think it was a train,” Martinez said.
Martinez said for the first time, he now fears living along the tracks.
“It happened once, it could happen again, you never know. Every time I hear the train I get a little bit nervous,” he said.
He wants the mystery solved before something goes up in flames.
Fortunately no one was injured, but firefighters in Hillburn are looking into whether another brush fire along the tracks — just over the New York border in Rockland County — could have been sparked by the same train.