Oregon firefighters extinguish train derail blaze

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2011 10:38 PM

A train derailment ignited several tanker cars full of ethanol Wednesday, touching off a massive fire that prompted the evacuation of nearby residents and blocked a major highway for hours.

No injuries were reported, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Paul Corah said.

A normally busy stretch of U.S. Highway 30 northwest of Portland was closed for hours and fire officials said a half-mile area around the blaze was temporarily evacuated Wednesday afternoon.

About 250 firefighters battled the two-alarm blaze, extinguishing it after four hours, Corah said.

National Transportation Safety Board representatives will be sorting out exactly what happened, the fire department spokesman said.

Corah said two freight trains were involved _ one carrying mainly logs and the other a 20-car train that included 12 tanker cars of ethanol.

Two tanker cars _ each carrying 28,000 gallons of ethanol _ caught fire, as did a freight car from the log train, he said.

The Oregonian reported that a Portland & Western Railroad train, with 59 cars mainly carrying logs, was heading westbound when several cars derailed, according to Mike Williams. He's a spokesman for Genesee & Wyoming, which owns Portland and Western, a short distance carrier.

Williams said the derailed cars then hit part of the 20-car train.

The resulting fire was visible for more than a mile.

Representatives of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality responded to assess the environmental impact due to runoff from the firefighting effort, Corah said.