Multiple letters have been written about the train and the 416 Fire. The letters and attitudes show that this community is divided on the issue. Some have been more affected than others, and some have a higher stake in the tragedy. What’s obvious is that there are multiple layers to a difficult situation. Many reactions, from both sides, are based on emotion.
I understand there is no official cause listed yet; however, there is little doubt among rational and logical thinkers. Al Harper should be given kudos for contributing to the community in many ways. However, his philanthropy does not excuse the decisions he made that resulted in the fire. He cannot be let off the hook simply because he is well-liked and wealthy. I hope that people on both sides of the issue would expect “personal responsibility” to be taken by anyone who was to blame.
Of course, the train brings tourists, and few rational people believe Durango would be financially stable without it. But to imply it’s the only draw to the area is ridiculous. Uranium mining used to keep this town alive; few people want to bring it back.
Tourists want the coal train experience? Run it for a month every year, maybe September, and charge extra for it. The rest of the year, run multiple diesel trains. The (unburned) scenery is still the same. The Harpers owe it to the residents of this community to be good neighbors as well as a good businessmen.