SHAWSVILLE — Norfolk Southern crews expect to spend into Saturday cleaning up from a train derailment at the intersection of Oldtown Road — but it could have been worse, Montgomery County Emergency Services Coordinator Neal Turner said.
Among the eight train cars that at least partially derailed Friday morning, five were empty ethanol containers. Hazmat teams responded, but there were no leaks or injuries, Turner added.
The cars came to a rest dangling over the edge of a hill, only feet above several homes and businesses. That’s where they sat for hours Friday afternoon as emergency crews swarmed nearby as the area was evacuated.
At least one rail car slid down the embankment and appeared to make contact with an outbuilding of a home. Turner did not immediately have any information on property damage.
Turner said the train experienced a mechanical failure early Friday morning, prior to the derailment.
Residents in the area said the train first stopped around 6 a.m.
Michael Shelor waited at the rail crossing for hours, since it was his only way out to work.
He said railroad crews told him they were about to get it moving, but then he heard a loud noise that sounded like a car crash.
When he looked back at the train, several cars were off the tracks.
“I told my boss this morning that I was going to be a little late because of a train,” Shelor said. “And then I called him and said, ‘The train is flipped over. I’ll see you Monday.’ ”
Turner confirmed that the derailment occurred as the train was restarted after the mechanical failure, but he was unsure how fast it was traveling at the time.
He did not have information on the cause of the derailment Friday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to the scene around 10:45 a.m. By 1:30 p.m. the cars remaining on the tracks were moved in order to give residents, like Shelor, access to their homes.
As of 2:30 p.m., the overturned train cars were still perched on their sides at the top of the hill.
“I think it was a blessing that the cars didn’t go any further than they did,” Turner said. “They stopped. Don’t know why they stopped. On my end, I have to start thinking about are they stopped for now. Are they stopped for good or are they going to take off rolling again? I don’t know those things.”