Fire In The Dining Car
Aboard The Amtrak Coast Starlight
On Saturday, November 27, 1999, train number 14, the north bound Coast
Starlight pulled into the Santa Barbara, CA station, at 12:08 PM.
Shortly after arriving in the station, smoke started billowing out of
the dining car.
Photos & Story from
Chuck & Greg Isaac (firstname.lastname@example.org).
On board personnel tried to put the fire out with
fire extinguishers and proceeded to get more fire extinguishers from
the station. They apparently almost succeeded in putting out the fire
because the smoke almost stopped completely prior to starting to
billow out of the car again. The on board services manager used a
cell phone to call the Santa Barbara fire department, while the two
"conductors" proceeded to evacuate the dining car of passengers and
keep onlookers away from the car. Shortly thereafter, several trucks
from the SB fire department arrived. It is interesting to note that
since the parking area has recently become a controlled area, that
each truck had to stop and get a parking ticket in order to avoid
breaking a wooden barrier arm off. The fire department proceeded to
put out the fire and blow all the smoke out of the dining car. The
train finally pulled out of the SB station at exactly 1:00PM. The
conductor commented that it was very fortunate that the train was in
the station when it caught fire; he realized that if they were out in
the middle of nowhere when it caught fire they would not have
controlled it. The conductor told me that they would be getting
another diner added to the train at the SLO station. This may not
have happened, since we went back to the SB station to see the number
14 south bound Coast Starlight later that day. Neither the regular
diner on the south bound train, nor the spare diner car, had serial
numbers that matched the original diner (the original number ended in
049). This probably means that the northbound train didn't get a new
diner until it reached Oakland.
"The fire started underneath the stove, [the fire chief] said, probably
because grease ignited or because of an electrical problem. ...
Firefighters who arrived on the scene at 12:19 p.m. used water hoses to
extinguish the stove fire."
"We responded with three engine companies and the rescue squad," [the fire
chief] said. "The only complication is there wasn't much ventilation. It was
pretty hot in there. It took a while to clear the smoke."
There were no injuries from this minor fire. Passengers were somewhat inconvenienced by the
evacuation of the diner, the delay, and the lack of a dining car for part of the northbound
journey. Though grease fires are probably non-existent on airplanes, it is probably better
to be on a train experiencing a minor fire than a plane experiencing a minor fire.
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Trainweb wishes to thank Chuck Isaac and Greg Isaac (email@example.com)
for providing the coverage and photos of this event. If you have a news item that you believe
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