At 11:31 p.m. on July 5, 2013, a man called 911 from Highway 161 after seeing the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train on fire between Nantes and Lac-Mégantic.
"The train is stopped, but there are flames rising above it. It's quite frightening," said the 911 caller.
At 11:40 p.m., Nantes firefighters were dispatched to the parked train. At 11:42 p.m. they arrived on the scene and immediately began putting out the fire in the first of the train's five locomotives. To do that, they turned off the engine and unknowingly cut pressure to the train's air brakes.
The fire was brought under control at 11:48 p.m.
"[The fire] was coming out of the engine's [exhaust pipe]. The guys sprayed it with [fire retardant] foam... the guys turned off the engine. That fixed everything. Nothing else is happening. The fire went out as soon as they turned off the engine," a firefighter told the dispatcher.
According to the Sûreté du Québec, the Transport Canada investigators have found that an insufficient number of hand brakes were set on the train.
They also said no hand brake was set on the oil tank cars.
At 12:30 a.m., firefighters left the scene.
"Our work is completed," said a firefighter to the dispatcher.
At 1:15 a.m. the train rolled out of control into downtown Lac-Mégantic, where it derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.