CHESTERTON, Ind., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Three CSX freight trains collided in northwest Indiana Friday and derailed, sparking a fire that sent black smoke wafting over a wide area, police said.
At least two crew members were injured and taken to Porter Hospital in Valparaiso. WBBM-AM, Chicago, said they were in stable condition.
The incident began about 1:30 p.m. and forced the evacuation of a mile radius around the accident site. Ethanol was said to be leaking from some tankers.
Porter County police spokesman Sgt. Larry LaFlower told The (Gary) Post-Tribune two westbound trains collided after the lead train slowed. An eastbound train then hit the debris field and derailed. About 70 cars were involved, LaFlower said. The Chicago Tribune said many of the train cars were empty.
"You could feel the heat from the flames," tree contractor Michael Cieply, who was working in the area, told The (Northwest Indiana) Times.
"I looked over the side of the bridge," Valparaiso resident Bart Anderson, who was biking in the area, told The Times. "It was a jumble of overturned railroad cars."
Police shut down roads as thick, black smoke blanketed the area.
A spokesman for CSX said the accident occurred on CSX property but released no other details, the Chicago Tribune said.
The Post-Tribune said one of the trains was hauling mostly empty ethanol tankers, and witnesses described liquid leaking from tankers on one of the trains. Hazardous materials workers were at the scene.
Two crew members on one of the trains were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries described as non-life-threatening, LaFlower said.
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