GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — Norfolk Southern is moving derailed freight cars off the tracks after two trains collided in Georgetown, Kentucky, and sent four people to the hospital, the company said Monday in a statement.
Four train crew members were taken to the hospital after the crash as a precaution and have been released with no injuries, though one employee is still being evaluated, the statement said.
Officials say the trains collided head-on late Sunday, derailing both locomotives and 13 cars and igniting a fire that forced nearby residents to evacuate. Lexington Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Bowman said residents were allowed to return home once officials determined there was no safety risk. Bowman couldn’t confirm what substance had spilled and was burning, but Norfolk Southern later said a non-hazardous nut oil had spilled and was being cleaned.
The company said it is working to clear and repair the track and have it back in service Tuesday.
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Shortly after the crash, police told the Scott County School superintendent, Kevin Hub, to open schools as emergency shelters, and buses were sent to the neighborhood to collect people without transportation. Hub said he could see smoke billowing from the scene and they were prepared to receive hundreds of people. The Red Cross even arrived with snacks. Shortly after many residents arrived, they were able to return home.
The crash remains under investigation.
At Lemons Hill Elementary, Christina Griffin said she was asleep when neighbors called her around 11:30 p.m. to say they needed to evacuate. As she and her son were leaving, an officer warned them to get out of the neighborhood, she said.
Betty Boyer had just laid down when she heard what she thought was something exploding.
“We thought, what the hell was that? Was it a train? Was it a trailer? We didn’t see any smoke,” she said. Then she then got a call from her son in Missouri asking if they were being evacuated. He’d apparently received a message from a friend who saw the accident on Facebook, she said.
She grabbed her purse and a pillow and headed over to the elementary school.
“I’m supposed to be up at 6 a.m. in the morning to go to work,” she said. “That ain’t happening.”
This story has been changed. The surnames of Griffin and Boyer have been corrected.