More than a half dozen kids received minor burns Tuesday during a field trip to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.
The group of nearly 50 kids and six adults from Discovery Point Learning Center in Loganville were riding on a caboose when the exhaust system of the diesel-electric locomotive pulling it caught fire, spewing out hot embers from its exhaust pipes on top.
“Having a fire of any nature is a bad thing; having a fire when you’re involved with kids is an extremely scary thing,” says museum administrator Randy Pirkle.
He says workers immediately stopped the train, put out the fire, and dealt the children’s injuries which included mostly dime-sized burns on their neck, knees, and their arms.
Daycare owner Michelle Gilley tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish she, herself, was burned and thought it was a bee sting.
“They were very minor burns, and basically they sent them back with us and we had one child go home early,” she says.
Nearly 20 firefighters responded and treated the kids at the scene for first and second degree burns. None required a visit to the hospital.
Pirkle says it’s the first such an incident for the museum which has been in operation since the late 1990’s. He says the train will remain offline until mechanics can diagnose and fix the problem.
He says the 1950’s era GP7 locomotive recently had its fuel-injectors replaced and suspects it could have been old fuel in the line that solidified can caused the fire.
“We’ll have our mechanical crew out taking a look and understanding what went on, what we can do different to prevent it from reoccurring, and how to do better about maintaining it,” says Pirkle.