Western wildfires: See the trains being used to fight the flames

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The Union Pacific Railroad has deployed its fire car fleet in the multi-state effort to protect the West's critical infrastructure and communities from deadly wildfires.

There are currently 107 large wildfires burning that have now scorched more than 2 million acres across the region. 

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Eleven new large fires were reported on Thursday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), which noted that more than 23,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel were working in the effort. 

According to a July Union Pacific news post, the company has 50 water tank cars that can respond to California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado fires. 

The cars can hold from 7,000 to 23,000 gallons of water.

The crews have helped to douse spot fires and assist state and local first responders by hauling water into remote areas to fill trucks.

However, Northern California's wind-driven Lava Fire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest –  which has now burned more than 26,000 acres – proved a particular challenge for Union Pacific.

A fire burns near Union Pacific Railroad tracks as crews work to put out the flames.  (Credit: Union Pacific Railroad)

In trying to reach the Dry Canyon Bridge, the company said the firefighting crew was forced to turn back and try again less than four hours later.

"We could see the bridge was on fire – smoke was all around it and there were small spot fires all over. At that point, we couldn’t get close enough with the water tanks because the track was compromised," Jamie Hill, Union Pacific's director of bridge maintenance and engineering, said in the article. 

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In the end, water from Union Pacific’s water tank cars – armed with nozzles that can spray upward of 75 feet – "managed to save an estimated 20 miles of railroad infrastructure" on the morning of June 29.

At its peak, the company said it had around 30 people a day manning five to six water tank trains across a 90-mile stretch of track – about a third of which was actively endangered by three different fires in the forest. 

A representative from Union Pacific told FOX Business on Friday that the bridge has since been repaired and there was a "soft reopening" on Aug. 1 – 30 days earlier than anticipated.

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As wildfire season continues, AccuWeather meteorologists predict that around 9.5 million acres of land will be scorched in the region this fire season.

"We were fighting fires like no tomorrow. This has been the most active stretch of miles I’ve seen at one time," said Hill.

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