×

UPDATE 2-Freight train derails, sparks fire in Pennsylvania; residents flee

(New throughout, adds details on crash and emergency response; adds byline)

Aug 2 (Reuters) - A CSX Corp freight train derailed as it moved through a southern Pennsylvania town on Wednesday, striking a residential garage that caught fire and forcing more than 100 residents from their homes, authorities said.

No injuries were reported after the crash in Hyndman, about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, but CSX warned customers of service disruptions on trains and shipments over a nearly 80-mile stretch between Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and Cumberland, Maryland.

At least six cars derailed as the train was passing through the town of fewer than 1,000 residents just before 5 a.m., said Harry Corley, an emergency management coordinator for Bedford County. A freight car skidded into a garage that caught fire and a number of the train cars were still burning several hours after the crash, he said.

He said authorities ordered the evacuation of residents in a one-mile radius. Local news footage from the crash site showed multiple train cars snaking across the ground in flames behind a house and a leveled garage.

Corley said the cause of the crash was not immediately known, and he did not know what the train was carrying. A U.S. government agency later said the train was hauling propane tanks. Trains that come through the area can be several miles long, Corley said.

The derailment came two days after CSX Corp's CEO apologized to customers for service disruptions and said some railroad employees were resisting planned cost-cutting measures.

"Customers with freight traveling across these lines should expect service disruptions for one week as recovery crews are working to fully restore service through the area and making any infrastructure or equipment repairs that may be necessary, the company said on its website.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of six to investigate the derailment and propane tank car fire, in Hyndman, Pennsylvania.

An emergency shelter was assembled at a local school and aid workers from the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army were called in for assistance, Corley said.

CSX Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison, known for turnarounds at Canadian railroads, told customers that some employees were resisting aggressive cost-cutting measures he promised for the No. 3 U.S. railroad which, according to a shipper survey, has been losing business to rivals. (Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Jarrett Renshaw in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)