Train Derailment And Explosion Lead To Evacuations, Two Injuries

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A fire burns near the Ohio State Fairgrounds after a train car carrying ethanol exploded early Wednesday morning. The fire forced the evacuation of homes within a mile radius of the derailment.(Photo: Thomas Bradley, for WOSU)
A fire burns near the Ohio State Fairgrounds after a train car carrying ethanol exploded early Wednesday morning. The fire forced the evacuation of homes within a mile radius of the derailment.(Photo: Thomas Bradley, for WOSU)

A fire official says a freight train carrying agricultural products has derailed and several cars burst into flames in north Columbus, causing an explosion and injuring at least two people.

Lt. Terry Bush says the accident happened at about 2 a.m. Wednesday in a mixed-use part of the city, and people living in one-mile radius of the blast have been evacuated.

A car carrying ethanol exploded, shooting flames up to 200 feet in the air.

“It looked like a natural gas tanker that was just on fire,” said Molly Upton, who lives about a half-mile from where the explosion originated.

“It just kind of like consumed the sky. You could see from the wind patterns which direction it was blowing. It was pretty insane.”

Columbus Assistant Fire Chief Dave Whiting said no one was in danger, so crews were letting the 20,000 gallons of ethanol remaining burn out. Whiting says that could take several hours.

A hazardous materials team is on the scene, as well as Norfolk Southern railroad officials.

Fifth and 11th Avenues were expected to remain closed through the morning. Interstate 71 and 17th Avenue are open but have seen some traffic delays.

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