A freight train derailed and caught fire in Columbus, Ohio, early on Wednesday, forcing residents close by to evacuate their homes.
It is unclear what caused the Norfolk Southern train to derail, but it was followed by a massive explosion, leading to the burning of three train cars, according to Ohio’s WLWT News 5.
“I’m grateful, in one respect as well, that this did not occur in a more populated area near more residents,” Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman was quoted as saying. “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.”
Fire officials told NBC-4i that the train was carrying around 90,000 gallons of ethanol. After the explosion, 20,000 gallons continued to burn. Officials said it would take between six and eight hours for it to end.
“This scenario was probably the best because this is a product we’d rather have burn off. It would be a bigger problem with it leaked into the storm drains,” said Columbus Division of Fire Assistant Chief David Whiting.