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Caught on camera: Fire truck's illegal crossing in Schuylkill County

A fire engine driver in Tamaqua took a chance and made a decision that could've put hundreds of people at risk.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — It was all caught on camera.

Saturday afternoon in Tamaqua, the driver of a fire engine took a chance on the way to a fire scene. 

He illegally drove around railroad crossing gates just seconds before a passenger train rolled through.

The video, which was posted online, caught the public's attention and brought up the question: Was it right for the engine to go through the crossing?

Quintin Rucker owns Upper Echelon Barber Shop on West Broad Street. His shop is connected to one of the buildings that have now been condemned after Saturday's fire.

"It's dangerous, but they felt like they did what they had to do at the time," Rucker said.

He says if it were his business that was burning, he would want firefighters there as quickly as possible.

"It was like four or five buildings on fire, and rumors is that people were still in there, so I don't know. I think they made a decision that was right at the time," the barber shop owner said.

The train is operated by the Reading and Northern. 

The railroad runs fall foliage excursions. In the video, you can see that each car was filled with people. 

In Chapter 33 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, it states that:

"No person shall drive any vehicle through, around, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while the gate or barrier is closed."

For Frank Julian of Tamaqua, if the law says you can't go through, then you shouldn't do it.

"My honest answer is they should wait. Why change your life and try to beat the train?" Julian said.

But both men agree it had to be a tough decision to make, and they might have made the same one if they were in that position.

"If somebody needed help — a baby, child, old woman, I wouldn't even think about the law; I'd zoom in and help," Julian said.

"I don't really know how to take that like, it's like, it's like either way somebody could get hurt," Rucker added.

We spoke with the fire chief of Tamaqua, and he acknowledges that the decision to go over the railroad crossing was the wrong one. He says the situation has been addressed and that they are lucky no one was hurt.

The driver of the engine will not face any charges.

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