Freight train engines, cars derail and catch fire in Maine

Apr 15, 2023, 12:52 PM | Updated: 3:30 pm

Several cars on a freight train derailed and caught fire early Saturday in rural Maine, officials and the train operator said. Three workers were hurt, but their injuries were said not to be life-threatening.

The Maine Forest Service said in a statement that three locomotive engines and six cars carrying lumber and electrical wiring went off the track at about 8:30 a.m. in Sandwich Academy Grant Township in Somerset County.

They derailed into a wooded area and started a small forest fire, which emergency responders contained and were monitoring, the service said. The three railroad employees were taken to the hospital.

Preliminary assessment pointed to a buildup of “melting ice and debris that washed out part of the railroad track” as a possible cause of the accident, the Forest Service added.

Some hazardous materials were on board the train, the agency said, but officials on the scene assessed that they were not at risk of leaking or catching fire.

C. Doniele Carlson, the director of communications for Canadian Pacific Kansas City, also confirmed the derailment about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of Jackman and said the hazardous elements of the train’s cargo were not involved in the fire.

“Our emergency response teams and hazardous materials experts have responded and continue to conduct a full assessment of the situation,” Carlson said in a statement. “There are no evacuations and no threat to public safety.”

The fire and rescue department in nearby Rockwood posted a photo of the derailment on its Facebook page and advised residents to stay away from the area. The image showed multiple derailed cars and a small fire, with black smoke wafting across snowy forestland.

A merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern was announced Friday. The rail line bills itself as the first and only single-line railway connecting Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

The derailment is the latest one to hit the rail industry. Federal regulators and members of Congress are urging railroads to do more to prevent derailments after recent fiery wrecks involving hazardous chemicals in Ohio and Minnesota prompted evacuations.

Rockwood, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) northwest of Bangor, is a village in Somerset County with about 300 residents. Located on the western side of Moosehead Lake, one of the state’s largest freshwater bodies, it’s a destination for salmon and trout fishing on both the lake and the Moose River.


Casey reported from Boston. Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.

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Freight train engines, cars derail and catch fire in Maine