A Union Pacific freight train carrying ethanol careened off its tracks in a Fort Worth neighborhood Wednesday and burst into flames, prompting an evacuation of nearby homes and a hazardous materials response.
It happened at about 12:40 a.m. near the 3200 block of Yuma Street, on the city's southeast side and near Echo Lake. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating, said about 20 rail cars derailed and five tank cars caught fire.
Firefighters said it's unclear what caused the cars to go off the tracks, but heavy thunderstorms were moving through the area at that hour.
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Ethanol inside the cars continued to burn through the early morning hours and had spread to one outbuilding near the tracks, firefighters said. Texas Sky Ranger video showed flames shooting from one of the tanker cars at about 8 a.m., more than seven hours after the initial crash.
Three horses were killed when flames spread to a nearby stable, NBC 5 confirmed.
"It just happened so quick," said Adrian Castillo, whose family owns the stables. "The fire was just overwhelming."
During the incident FWFD’s Mobile Command unit caught fire. Not related to the incident and no injuries occurred. P/C FWFD G Ellman pic.twitter.com/PikHU6cwg9— Fort Worth Fire Department (@FortWorthFire) April 24, 2019
He and others raced to rescue seven other horses, he said.
"Oh man, I wish we could have saved all of them but we were unable," he said as the ground still smoldered from the blaze.
No other injuries were reported.
Crews will spend most of the day cleaning up the wreckage and there was no timeline for reopening the tracks, a Union Pacific spokesperson said.
People in about a dozen homes downwind from the crash site were asked to evacuate from their homes. Firefighters noted the measure was a precaution and not mandatory.
The Fort Worth Fire Department's hazardous materials unit monitored air quality conditions and were later joined by officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Dramatic Photos of Smoldering Train Car Pileup in Fort Worth
Meanwhile, a Fort Worth Fire Department mobile command unit responding to the scene caught fire after its tower camera came into contact with overhead power lines, firefighters said. No one was hurt, but the truck was destroyed.
Bought in 2008, it cost $1.25 million, the department said.
NBC 5's Tim Ciesco and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.