MINERAL SPRINGS, N.C. -- Two crew members were killed and two others were injured Tuesday morning when a train crashed into the rear of another train in the North Carolina town of Mineral Springs, touching off a fire and forcing an evacuation of several families.
The crash, which happened shortly before 3:45 a.m. EDT, sent flames and a plume of smoke into the air, but Union County officials said the trains were not carrying hazardous material.
Union County officials ordered an evacuation around the crash, which happened near the junction of N.C. 75, Potter Road, and Old Waxhaw-Monroe Road. That is near the center of Mineral Springs, a town about 2 1/2 miles northeast of Waxhaw. The evacuation was ordered, authorities said, because of the smoke and flames coming from the train crash site.
Brett Vines, a spokesman for the county, said a half-dozen families -- about 12 to 15 residents -- were in the evacuation zone.
Firefighters put out most of the flames by 7 a.m., but the fire re-ignited about an hour later. Smoke was still billowing from the site at 11 a.m.
Vines said crews were working to contain a large fuel spill from one of the trains.
The crash happened a short distance from Station 15 of the Mineral Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and those firefighters are trained in dealing with train-related blazes, according to the fire department.
Mineral Springs Mayor Rick Becker said the town's fire department has received helped from the Monroe Fire Department, the N.C. Highway Patrol, the sheriff's office, and county emergency management. Waxhaw police also were among first on the scene.
Vines said both of those killed in the crash were on the second train.
"One employee on the second train was declared deceased at the scene, and the other employee died from his injuries at CMC (Carolinas Medical Center) Main in Charlotte," Vines said.
Names of the victims have not been released yet.
"Two employees on the first train sustained minor injuries," Vines said, adding that they were treated and released from a hospital.
Phyllis Thompson-Dolan, who was among those evacuated, told reporters she heard the loud sound of a train engine before the crash.
"It sounded like it just kept running -- it made a lot of noise," she said. "The next thing I knew, the sheriff's office was knocking at the door."
According to CSX, the crash happened in the northbound tracks. One train, going from New Orleans to Hamlet, had two engines and nine freight cars. The other, headed to Charlotte from southern Georgia, had two engines and 12 freight cars. Police at the scene said one train apparently slammed into the rear of another train that was stopped on the tracks.
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