A man was forced to abandon his vehicle on a local train track yesterday morning when his car got stuck on the tracks in front of an oncoming train.
At 6:09 a.m., the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. responded to an accident involving a vehicle exploding at the railroad crossing at El Capitan Ranch, located just north of UCSB. The car, a 1993 Ford Tempo driven by Ventura resident Allen Compton, became immobile on the railroad tracks. Compton was trying to dislodge the car when he saw an approaching Union Pacific freight train. The train hit the vehicle, causing the car’s fuel tank to explode, Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. captain Keith Cullom said. Neither Compton nor the employees on the train sustained any injuries during the accident.
Cullom said fire captain Gordon O’Neill, who saw the accident on his way to work, stopped to help Compton and alerted emergency personnel of the situation. He said three engines and one fire truck responded to the scene, and it took firefighters approximately 20 minutes to gain control of the blaze.
Compton mistakenly drove his car onto the train track, which he thought was a highway onramp, Cullom said. Compton, who attempted to free his car, jumped out of the vehicle when he realized he could not move it. The automobile was struck by a 3,000-ft. train and pushed several hundred feet before coming to rest in a crumpled ball of fire.
Compton told firefighters at the scene that the fuel tank of his car had just been filled, contributing to the intensity of the fire. While the wreck did not cause any damage to the train, the automobile was totaled.