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Train Derails; Freight Car Falls Onto Highway

December 25, 1991| From Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. — A freight car fell 80 feet onto an interstate highway early Tuesday after a train derailed on a bridge. Two railroad cars were left dangling from the bridge, and flying debris damaged a Greyhound bus and an automobile.

"I slammed on my brakes and stopped and watched it all fall. It was like slow motion," said Robert Hobbs, a security company employee who was behind the bus. "The first car fell down and kind of folded in half, and the second slammed into it. The third one just kind of dangled there."

No one was injured. Police said the automobile's windshield was broken by debris as the driver, whose name was not released, floored his accelerator to avoid the falling rail car.

The bus, bound from Chicago to Seattle with 30 people aboard, got a flat tire. The driver returned to Spokane for a tire change and then proceeded with the trip, a Greyhound spokesman said.

Workers cleared chunks of concrete from the bridge and steel rails from the westbound lanes of Interstate 90, which was reopened 12 hours after the accident.

Nineteen of the westbound train's 108 cars derailed, said Mike Wenninger, a Burlington Northern Railroad spokesman in Ft. Worth, Tex.

The train was headed for Pasco, Wash., carrying a mixed load of freight, he said. The cause of the accident was being investigated, Wenninger said.

A refrigerator car dangled precariously from the concrete bridge--one end wedged into the freeway shoulder--until cranes lowered it to the ground.

Across the state, a tank car containing butane that derailed on Monday continued to burn. Authorities said they will let the fire burn out and hope that about 100 evacuated Everett residents could return to their homes by today.

The cause of the Everett derailment apparently was a burned-out wheel bearing in the tanker that caught fire, said Burlington Northern spokesman Howard Kallio. He said the damaged wheel fell off, and the tank car jumped the tracks at a switch.

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