Not factually accurate
The editorial titled “Mother Nature’s cold shoulder” may just verify the idea of “fake news,” or at least “false news.” In the second paragraph, the writer stated that Chicago was so cold during the polar vortex weather event that transit officials were keeping commuter trains running by setting train tracks on fire, and that Chicago, a place that should be nervous about fires, is pouring lighter fluid on everything. This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Chicago has no more incidence of fires than any other large city, and officials are not pouring “lighter fluid on everything.” Let me elaborate.
Train tracks are made of very hard steel, and do not catch fire very easily, if at all, except during manufacture. However, some track elements contain movable parts, such as switches that allow a train to move from one track to another. In extremely cold and wet weather, these parts tend to freeze up. To prevent this, railroads have resorted to a simple solution of installing heaters fired by propane gas, oil or electricity next to the movable track parts to keep them free and clear of snow and ice. They do not present a danger since they are controlled fires in a very limited area, and trains themselves are not affected by the flames since they are kept moving over the track. This practice is almost as old as railroading itself, and has been successfully used for decades.
A journalist, even when writing an editorial, which is often an opinion, is still expected to be factually accurate. This is not hard to do. There are websites, such as Snopes or FactCheck, where accurate information is available to confirm the information presented in a news story or even an editorial. This was obviously not done in the case of this particular editorial. Shame on the journalist for writing such inaccuracies, and shame on the Democrat-Gazette for printing it!