KGVO News reached out to Montana Rail Link Public Information Officer Jim Lewis about the use of 'grinder trains' that reportedly sparked some small grass fires over the past week.

The following is a press release from Montana Rail Link regarding the use of ‘grinder trains’.

'Each year Montana Rail Link contracts with a third party to provide rail grinding maintenance across our network.  

The grinder profiles the rail and removes any hardened material on the rail.  This valuable maintenance process improves rail safety and ensures the railroad can provide reliable rail service to the Montana communities and businesses we serve. The train is equipped with water cannons on the front and back of the train to pre-soak and after-soak the right-of-way while the train is operating.   In addition, the train is equipped with water spray nozzles to wet the rail ties continuously.  We also have spotters following the train equipped with water tanks.

MRL has invested well over a billion dollars in our network in the past 30 years to improve safety, reliability and service to the Montana communities and businesses we partner with.  In 2017 our $40 Million annual maintenance program includes:

Installing 135,000 new ties..

Installing over 23 miles of new rail..

Resurfacing 245 miles of track

Investing nearly $4 Million in bridges and tunnels

Investing nearly $3 Million in rail signal equipment and upgrades

Investing $4.5 Million in new work equipment

We are thankful for the Frenchtown Fire Department’s assistance and quick response on Sunday and Tuesday in addressing the issues that arose near Frenchtown and Evaro Hill.

Due to elevated fire danger, MRL has made the decision to significantly decrease the grinding schedule across our network for the remainder of the summer from an estimated 30 days of activity down to 9 days.   In addition, we will be presoaking the work area with additional water when grinding is occurring. 

Rail grinding will resume later this year when fire danger subsides.'

During the fire on Evaro hill on Tuesday afternoon, Frenchtown Fire spokesman Mel Holtz said the grinder train provided valuable assistance in putting out the fire.