No injuries or leaks in derailment of propane cars
NORTH HOOSICK, N.Y. — Crews worked into the night Thursday at the scene of a Vermont Railway train that derailed in Hoosick Junction Wednesday evening.
No injuries were reported in connection with the incident, which occurred around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Inspection of the propane cars has found them all to be intact, and no leaks were detected, officials said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Four nearby homes — a total of six to eight residents — were evacuated, North Hoosick (N.Y.) Fire Chief Alan Bornt said at the press conference. All residents except for one who lives closest to the scene were allowed back in their homes by mid-morning Thursday, he said. That resident was expected to be allowed back in his home Thursday evening after the remainder of the toppled cars had been righted.
The Hoosick Falls Fire Department was dispatched around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday 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 5 or 6 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 moved some of the train cars that stood upright, and crews were waiting on the arrival Thursday night of special equipment from Buffalo, N.Y. to move toppled cars by hooking onto the front of the car and righting 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."
Members of 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 said that crews are "pretty comfortable" there are no leaks. Cranes worked overnight to move some of the cars, he said.
The area was monitored throughout the day Thursday as trained railway contractors further assessed the scene. Police secured the area and were not allowing non-crew personnel at the scene. As of midday Thursday, only Hoosick Junction Road, a one-lane dirt road with a few homes, was affected by the incident.
Crews worked with evacuated homeowners, allowing one homeowner back in his home to restock his pellet stove so that his house would be warm when he returned in the evening. His home is the closest residence to the derailment.
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 email@example.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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