COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Part of a freight train carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire in Ohio's capital city early Wednesday, shooting flames skyward into the darkness and prompting the evacuation of a mile-wide area as firefighters and hazardous materials crews monitored the blaze.
Norfolk Southern said it appeared about 11 cars of a southbound train derailed around 2 a.m. near Interstate 71, southeast of the Ohio State University campus. They went off the tracks north of downtown, in an industrial area blocks from residential neighborhoods.
Joel Priester said he watched the blast from his home two blocks away.
"I saw flames, then I heard a loud sound, like a boom, and saw the flames shooting higher," he said. "It looked like the sun exploded."
Three of the burning cars were tankers carrying ethanol, said Assistant Chief David Whiting of the Columbus fire division. After viewing the scene in daylight, authorities decided to let the fire burn out instead of trying to extinguish it.