ALEXANDRIA — The scene at the railroad crossing on Washington Street looked like something from a wreck on a model train layout.

Tanker cars were leaning to one side, their huge wheels ripped from the frame. To the north three box cars were lying on their sides and an empty lumber car toppled over. Rails were split and chunks of concrete from Washington Street littered the roadway.

A CSX train of 85 cars derailed at the Washington Street crossing, one of the main east-west streets through Alexandria at 7:10 p.m., according to Alexandria Assistant Fire Chief Dan Ingram.

Ingram said there were no injuries and no damage done to property other than that owned by the railroad.

“No buildings were damaged and no power lines went down,” he said.

Ingram said a total of seven cars derailed over a two-block area. The engine of the train came to a stop near the intersection of Indiana 28, north of the downtown area.

“When we first got to the scene we thought one of the derailed cars had a hazardous material,” Ingram said. “We ordered the evacuation of one square block area.”

Ingram said shortly thereafter it was determined the tanker car, which carried sodium chlorate, was empty and the evacuation was lifted.

He said the cars that derailed included: two tanker cars that contained clay slurry, a box car with silicone sand, some of which leaked out, another tanker car which had carried the sodium chlorate and two empty box cars and the empty lumber car.

The train crew told Alexandria police that they saw nothing on the tracks and didn’t hear anything until the emergency air brakes went off.

Lawrence Auler, 108 S. West St., said he was watching television when the derailment took place.

“I heard a loud shriek, like a skidding noise before a crash,” he said. “It sounded like something skidded into something. It was real loud. Like a thundering sound.”

Auler said he then heard sirens and went outside to see what had happened.

“I head the engine blow its horn when it got to the crossing,” he said. “You hear trains coming all the time, you never think about a derailment.”

Amanda Blevins, 16, 318 W. Church St., said she was at a friend’s house when her mother called.

“She told me to come and get some things because we were being evacuated,” Blevins said. “I got a backpack with some clothes in it because I’m going to stay at a friend’s house.”

Ingram said CSX officials indicated the track would be repaired by morning.

“This is a main north-south route,” he said. “The derailment will block everything coming through the Midwest.

“Every morning since the hurricanes hit there are 80 to 100 cars that go through here carrying trailers from Elkhart down south,” Ingram said.

He estimated that Washington Street will be blocked for several days until the crossing is repaired.

Responding to the derailment were the Alexandria police and fire departments, Summitville, Pipe Creek and Richland Township fire departments, Elwood Police, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Madison County Emergency Management and the Madison County HazMat Team.

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