Three are dead and dozens of train cars lie smoldering in a tangled mess in a rural area of the Oklahoma panhandle after two freight trains collided Sunday morning. The trains crashed head-on at about 10 a.m. local time, two miles east of Goodwell, Okla. A 108-car train heading east barreled into an 80-car westbound train carrying vehicles. The force of the crash sparked a diesel fuel blaze and sent plumes of smoke into the air visible for miles.
The two trains were both owned by Union Pacific, each carrying one conductor and one engineer. In the aftermath of the crash, only the conductor of the westbound train was found, unscathed but “very shaken up” after apparently having jumped out of the train before the crash. The other three crew members died in the crash, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol told NewsFeed Monday afternoon. The United Transportation Union confirmed the deaths in a news release.
The Guymon Police Department posted on their Facebook page that the train accident “has potential for explosion, is not stable,” and cautioned rubberneckers against flocking to the crash site. Only one car on the eastbound train was carrying a potentially hazardous material, resin, but that car didn’t catch fire.
By Monday morning, more than 24 hours after the collision, the flames were still not under control. “Once the fire is out then we will have to wait until the wreckage cools — it’s all metal — before emergency personnel can get in there,” Randolph told the Associated Press. A trailer park three miles from the crash site has been evacuated, and U.S. Highway 54 remained closed much of Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board brought in a 14-member team to the remote location Sunday night to investigate.