Cars From Freight Train Carrying Toxic Chemicals Derails

Wednesday, October 10th 2007, 2:42 pm
By: News On 6

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Several cars from a freight train hauling some toxic chemicals derailed Wednesday, setting off a large, smoky fire and prompting the evacuation of a half-mile area.

Authorities were evacuating an area that includes homes and businesses, said Leslie James, deputy clerk for the Painesville police department. There were no injuries reported.

The fire was under control, but authorities were letting it burn itself out because the train was carrying toxic chemicals, fire officials said.

Garrick Francis, a spokesman for the freight operator, Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Corp., said there were some hazardous materials cars in the 112-car mixed freight train. He couldn't immediately say what they were carrying or how they were affected.

``We're working to identify which cars are involved in the pileup,'' said Francis.

The state's Environmental Protection Agency sent emergency environmental response teams to the scene, said agency spokesman Mike Settles.

The agency was called at about 12:45 p.m. by the Lake County Health Department, he said.

Settles said the first report indicated there were unspecified alcohol products carried by tank cars, but he had no other details. He said initial reports indicated that three cars were on fire, and more were derailed.

A motorist driving near the site when the derailment occurred said he heard an explosion and saw a white flash out of the corner of his eye.

``I looked and an oil tanker exploded. Flames shot 50, 60 feet in the air. Other cars were thrown off the tracks and dumped grain that started burning,'' Michael Wright told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer by phone.

The tracks are about 300 yards from a road, so firefighters were having trouble reaching the fire, he said.

The train was headed from Collingwood to Buffalo, N.Y., Francis said.