ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - A freight train derailed Friday night,
triggering an explosion that prompted officials to evacuate the
area northwest of Chicago amid concerns more of the train's cars
might catch fire.
Officials said there were several injuries, but they did not
have any details about how many or how serious they were.
The 114-car train included 74 tankers carrying ethanol, 12 of
which were involved in the fire, Kirk Wilson, a fire chief of
nearby Rockton told reporters at the scene. The cause of the
derailment remained under investigation, Wilson said.
The area had experienced extremely heavy rainfall prior to the
8:30 p.m. derailment and the Rockford Register Star reported that
the track may have been washed out.
Wilson, whose department was one of 26 that responded to the
derailment, said area residents within a half-mile of the scene of
the derailment were being evacuated out of concern that the other
tanker cars carrying ethanol might catch fire.
Witnesses reported seeing a massive fireball after the
"At first I thought it was a tornado because they always say a
tornado sounds like a train coming," Jeff Tilley, an employee of
the Rockford Register Star who lives near the scene, told the
Another Register Star employee, Amy Walker, said she and her
husband were in a car near the crossing when they saw train cars
bouncing up and down.
"Then they started piling up and the two tank cars exploded,"
When that happened, she said, several people in vehicles near
the crossing jumped out and ran away.