Country Thunder/Railway Incident

Significant Event Readiness Forum (SERF)

Encanterra Country Club, (Ballroom)

36460 N. Encanterra Drive,
Queen Creek, Arizona, 85140

February 20, 2024

The program starts at 9am and ends at 3pm

Breakfast begins at 8. Lunch will be served

The purpose of the Significant Event Readiness Forum (SERF) is to provide an environment for exploring gaps and opportunities along the disaster response continuum. The SERF is not a disaster preparedness exercise, but instead is a facilitated discussion to foster information sharing.


By the end of the SERF, participants will have an improved understanding of:

  1. How public information and warning will be activated and provided.
  2. How operational coordination will be activated and provided.
  3. How interoperable communications will be established (including triggers and communications with hospitals, prisons, transportation, and municipal, tribal, and county management).
  4. How situational assessment will be activated and provided.
  5. How ingress and egress traffic will be managed.
  6. How law enforcement will be coordinated (including security) in conjunction with fire (pertaining to toxic chemicals; where will patients be routed).
  7. How fire and EMS services will be activated and provided.
  8. How hospitals/healthcare will be notified, coordinated (number of patients hospitals can take [staffed beds] and level of care capability) provided.
  9. How public health will be activated and provided.
  10. How environmental hazards will be managed (includes protective measures for first responders).
  11. How fatality management will be activated and provided.

Country Thunder/Railway Incident – Scenario

It is Saturday night of Country Thunder and more than 30,000 event attendees are present during a head liner event. As is usual for this evening, many individuals are intoxicated.

The evening winds are gusty and erratic (between 30 to 50 miles per hour and shifting directions). Rains have begun, with heavy showers predicted.

Security notices an RV driver swerving towards the Copper Basin rails on Hunt Highway and Oasis Lane/Road. Unfortunately, security is unable to deter the driver who crashes into multiple Copper Basin rail cars carrying sulfuric acid.

The crash causes a derailment and wreckage, hitting multiple vehicles in the vicinity, sparking fires among some of the vehicles, killing the officer who had nearly reached the RV, and killing or wounding all of those in the vehicles parked near the Copper Basin rails. Some of these vehicles likely contained sleeping children.

The combination of sulfuric acid and rain causes a massive explosion, sending a toxic plume across Country Thunder attenders and the performers on stage. The toxic plume is headed directly towards Florence (including the prisons). Later, the winds cause a reverse in the direction of the plume and heads towards the Army National Guard Base.

The scene is horrific. Vehicles attempting to leave the scene aren’t following instructions by the Florence Police Department and are driving off the single road providing egress and ingress.