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Union Pacific tracks reopen in Colfax after derailment

3:12 PM, Jan 21, 2013   |    comments
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COLFAX, CA - Union Pacific railroad says both lines of track in Colfax were cleared and re-opened to train travel Monday morning just under 24 hours after five cars from one of its freight trains derailed near the train depot on Railroad Street.

The derailment happened just before 11 Sunday morning.

Witnesses say it was a frightening scene.

"As it hit the concrete between the street here, it just folded up. It just pancaked. It folded right over here. It flipped these two cars right next to this bank," said John Davenport, who watched the scene unfold from the balcony of his home.

"It sounded like metal against metal and it lasted a really long time," said Carrie Jens.

"It was dragging sideways. It came apart and then was on its side," said Kenya Stark. "Well, they've got a big mess."

Because a clear liquid was leaking from one of the rail cars, emergency crews evacuated nearby residences and businesses as a precaution. A Hazmat team tested the fluid to determine what it was, said Lynne Tolmachoff with Cal Fire.

Once the fluid was determined to be a saline solution and not hazardous, residents were allowed to return to their homes.

All evacuations were lifted around 3:10 p.m.

A conductor and two workers were on the train when it derailed. There were also a lot of people having a 49ers tailgating party in a gazebo by the tracks in downtown Colfax.

"At that point, stuff was flying and shooting toward these tailgaters right over here 20 yards away," said Davenport.  "They're all running for the cover."

No injuries were reported.

Union Pacific crews worked to upright the derailed cars which were being cleaned on site.

KXTV/ NEWS10

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