No injuries or leaks as propane cars derail in Hoosick, N.Y.

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This story was updated on January 10, 2019 at 12:14 p.m.

NORTH HOOSICK, N.Y. — Crews have worked through the night and into the day Thursday to secure the scene of a Vermont Railway train that derailed in Hoosick Junction Wednesday evening.

No injuries have been reported in connection with the incident. Inspection of the propane cars has found them all to be intact, and no leaks have been detected, officials said.

Four nearby homes — a total of six to eight residents — were evacuated said North Hoosick (N.Y.) Fire Chief Alan Bornt in a press conference. All residents except for one who lives closest to the scene were allowed back in their homes by mid Thursday morning, he said. That resident is expected to be allowed back in his home this evening after the remainder of the toppled cars have been offloaded from the tracks.

The Hoosick Falls Fire Department was dispatched around 7:15 p.m. for the report of five train cars, including three 32,000-gallon propane cars and two empty grain cars, that had derailed on the Vermont west line on its way to Rutland. The train was carrying 79 cars at the time of the derailment and was reported to be traveling at no more than five or six miles an hour, said Vermont Rail System Vice President Selden Houghton.

The fire department immediately set up an incident command post a half mile from the site and sent a crew to assess the scene.

“The situation could have been a lot worse,” Bornt said in a public update on social media Thursday morning.

Excavators have moved some of the train cars that stood upright, and crews are waiting on special equipment to move toppled cars by hooking onto the front of the car and uprighting them, said Houghton. Many of the train’s cars were empty at the time of the crash, he said.

It is too early to speculate on the cause of the crash, Houghton said, adding that there has not been an incident “of this magnitude” in that location before.

“Last night, it was complete devastation,” said Rensselaer County HAZMAT Coordinator Ray Davis. “You had cars that were intermingled with one another...today, that’s not the case. They have already removed most of them.”

The fire department walked the complete line of cars last night with flashlights to confirm which cars were derailed and which ones remained on the tracks, said Rensselaer County Director of Public Safety Jay Wilson.

Crews could not see the bottom “belly” of at least one of the propane cars, however Wilson says crews are “pretty comfortable” there are no leaks. Cranes worked overnight to move some of the cars, he said.

The area will be monitored throughout the day Thursday and trained railway contractors will further assess the scene. Police have secured the area and are not allowing non-crew personnel at the scene. At this time, only Hoosick Junction Road is affected by the incident, and it is a one-lane dirt road with a few homes.

Crews have worked with evacuated homeowners, allowing a homeowner back in his home to restock his pellet stove so his house is warm when he returns this evening. His home is the closest residence to the derailment and officials say he will most likely be allowed to return home after the derailed cars are offloaded this evening.

Officials have notified the appropriate state and federal authorities, but declined to comment whether the investigation and cleanup of the derailment will be affected by the government shutdown.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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