Fiery Blast as Ohio Freight Train Derails
Over 29 million carloads of freight are hauled each year in the United States over 140,000 miles of rail. About 1.8 million of those carloads are classified as varying hazardous materials. In 2011, about 325,000 carloads of ethanol were hauled over the rails.
Around 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, July 11, an Ohio freight train derailed north of downtown Columbus in an industrial area near Interstate 71 leading to a fiery blast. The derailment that occurred on the Norfolk Southern Corp. tracks led to a fiery blast and three tank cars burning that were each carrying 30,000 gallons of ethanol.
Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon said that the 98 car freight train that included the three cars of ethanol was going from Chicago, Illinois to Linwood, North Carolina. 16 cars derailed, which included the three that were full of ethanol that exploded causing the fiery blast.
Wheat and corn syrup
In addition to the three cars that were carrying ethanol, two of the cars that were carrying wheat and corn syrup were breached and leaking an undetermined amount. Crews applied sand in order to try and stop the leaks before they attempted to recover the cargo that was left.
Thankfully, no one who was on board the train was injured. Two people were hurt as they walked on the tracks to investigate. The train derailment resulted in a hurried evacuation of an urban neighborhood, but officials said that the train derailment might have been far worse if it had taken place in a more populated area.
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said, Im grateful, in one respect as well, that this did not occur in a more populated area near more residents. It very well could have. A mile up or a mile south. North or south, east or west. It could have been tragic in other ways as well.
Middle of the night
Assistant Chief David Whiting of the Columbus fire division said that it was a fortunate thing that the accident took place in the middle of the night. He said, The time it occurred, where it occurred, were very good things for us. Because we didnt have a whole lot of people around, businesses were closed, we were able to take care of getting our firefighters back and evacuating a small number of people.
A 35 year old grocery store employee from Columbus, Nicholas Goodrich, said that he and two other people managed to get within 100 feet of the fiery blast. He said, Looking at it, I thought it was an atomic bomb or something. The heat was so excruciating that I had to ball up and cover my body.
Joel Priester said that he watched the explosion from his house that was located about two blocks away. I saw flames, then I heard a loud sound, like a boom, and saw the flames shooting higher, Priester said. It looked like the sun exploded.
Officials do not know what caused the train derailment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to issue a preliminary report on the train derailment in about a month. The complete investigation into the train derailment may take a year.
If you have been hurt in an accident that was not your fault, contact a personal injury lawyer for advice on what you need to do.