Train derails and causes forest fire in Rockwood, Maine but officials say no hazardous materials involved
(CNN) — The train cars that derailed near a village in central Maine Saturday and caused a large fire were not carrying hazardous materials, officials said, adding there was no threat to public safety.
Officials say the derailed fright train cars were carrying lumber and wiring. Other carts were carrying hazardous materials but were unaffected by the derailment and the fire, a spokesperson for the Canadian Pacific Kansas City rail network said. Officials said the derailment likely was caused by a washout of ice and debris on the tracks.
The Rockwood Fire and Rescue Department said the train derailed north of Rockwood, a village in Somerset County that borders Moosehead Lake — the largest body of fresh water in the state.
Officials at the scene assessed the derailment and said the “hazardous materials are not at risk of leaking and are not at risk of catching fire,” Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry spokesperson Jim Britt said in a statement.
Three railroad employees suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the derailment and are being treated at a nearby hospital, Britt added.
The derailment happened around 8:30 a.m. ET when the train came across a track washout in a rural wooded area, the rail network’s spokesperson C. Doniele Carlson said in a statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear which freight train carrier was operating the train Saturday.
“An early assessment indicates that the derailment may have been caused by a build-up of melting ice and debris that washed out part of the railroad track,” according to the Maine Forest Service.
The three locomotive engines and six rail cars that derailed were carrying lumber and electrical wiring and caught fire causing a small forest fire, according to the Maine Forest Service. The fire is now contained and being monitored by local emergency first responders, the service said.
Maine Governor Janet Mills tweeted she was briefed on the train derailment and stated her office “will continue to closely monitor the situation” but that there was “no threat to public health or safety.”
The rail network, which was inaugurated Friday, combines railways from Canada and the US to create “the first single-line railway connecting Canada, the U.S., and Mexico,” according to a press release.
“CPKC is the only railway connecting North America and has unrivaled port access on coasts around the continent, from Vancouver to Atlantic Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to Lázaro Cárdenas on Mexico’s Pacific coast,” the press release states.