Trains collide, derail in Marion County, causing massive fuel leak

CSX environmental team assesses fuel release impact

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor
CITRA, Fla. - Two CSX trains collided and derailed early Wednesday in Marion County, causing 32 cars to overturn and a 7,400-gallon fuel leak, officials said.
 
The collision was reported about 4:15 a.m. at a train crossing on 175th Street at NE 23rd in Citra, just north of Ocala.
 
"I thought it was massive lightning, it was like a bang, boom, boom. It was real loud. I thought it was a bomb," resident Millie MacFarland said.
 
Two locomotive operators were on each the train at the time of the crash, two crew members were treated for injuries, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.
 
CSX said one train was on the main track, while the other was on a side track when the collision happened. CSX tells News 6 one train was transporting non-hazardous phosphate rock and the other was loaded with coal.
 
"We know at this point that one of the fuel tanks from one of the locomotives was damaged," CSX spokesperson Laura Phelps said.
 
CSX said 7,400 gallons of fuel were released from three locomotives. CSX environmental experts are on scene assessing and containing any possible product releases. They said work is focusing on containing and removing the fuel.
 
"We're allowing for hazmat crews to come in, fire rescue is on scene and the sheriff's office will be directing traffic and will be allowing CSX to do their part of their investigation," Lt. Ryan Robbins with the Marion County Sheriff's Office. 
 
The phosphate train was traveling from Mulberry, Florida, to Chicago, with three locomotives and 100 loaded phosphate cars, CSX said. The coal train was traveling from Pembroke, Kentucky, to Tampa, with three locomotives and 110 loaded cars of coal, officials said. 
 
Video from News 6 helicopter Sky 6 and photos released by Marion County Fire Rescue show several mangled train cars piled up.
 
"Please avoid Pine Church Road/2500 NE 175th Street as the road has been blocked off by a portion of the train," the Marion County Sheriff's Office said. "Please plan your travels accordingly."
 
CSX is working to move all the rail cars and clear Pine Church Road for traffic, according to the sheriff's office.
 
CSX said investigators will review any train camera footage, as well as recordings from a device similar to a black box on an airplane to figure out what caused the crash.
 
"They look at the condition of the rail, they look at the locomotive and how it was running, the condition of the cars, and they also look at train handling," Phelps said. "Our first priority is finding out what happened, the investigation process, and of course we want to make sure everyone is working safely, so we're not going to rush anything."
 
MCSO said there is no immediate concern for public safety.
 
CSX said it will take several days to clean up the wreckage. The cause of the collision is under investigation.
 
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