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The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne firefighters and police investigate a train derailment on the Norfolk Southern Railroad track at Anthony Boulevard north of Creighton Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

Friday, October 20, 2017 1:00 am

Train carrying cornmeal, fuel derails on south side

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

A five-car train derailment Thursday on the Norfolk Southern tracks on the overpass over South Anthony Boulevard is under investigation, according to a railroad spokesman.

The derailment occurred at 1:26 p.m. and involved a tanker containing biodiesel fuel and four other cars carrying cornmeal. Two cars ended up on their side, two were leaning, and one car left the track but remained upright, according to Jon Glass, Norfolk Southern spokesman.

The fuel tanker was not leaking, but some cornmeal spilled from one of the other cars, Glass said, prompting Norfolk Southern cleanup crews to arrive. No cornmeal wound up on South Anthony, he added.

Glass said he did not know how old the tanker car was that contained the fuel, but he said that type of fuel has a low combustibility. No fumes or odor were reported at the scene.

Local law enforcement blocked off South Anthony from Creighton Avenue to Wayne Trace and reopened the street an hour after the derailment.

Glass said he did not know who owned the rail cars but said the tracks belong to Norfolk Southern. The speed limit for leaving the rail yard is 10 mph, and the 121-car train, overseen by an engine crew of three, was “shoving out of the yard,” Glass said, a term used in the railroad industry for a slow start. The 7,559-foot-long train was headed for Conway, Pennsylvania.

“The next step is to try to get those cars rerailed or disposed of,” Glass said.

Glass could not say how many derailments occur across the U.S., but they don't occur every day.

“We inspect the tracks regularly and make safe operations a top priority,” he said.

Paul Veldman, chief of operations for the Fort Wayne Fire Department, said firefighters were on the scene in three minutes. Fort Wayne police assisted with drones onsite, he added.