Freight train derails in Littlerock; evacuations ordered as precaution


County fire Inspector Matt Levesque says the Union Pacific train derailed about 1:25 p.m. According to the fire department, half of the 62 train cars overturned. That number was later revised to be 21 overturned cars.

It was orignally reported that 14 cars were carrying hazardous materials, but Union Pacific said it was only six.

Authorities initially said there was no leak, but after a fire department helicopter spotted a possible chlorine leak, crews were advised not to enter the derailment area.

Some homes near the site were evacuated. Levesque says the area is sparsely populated.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department asked residents from 87th Street East to 106th Street East between Avenue S and Avenue T to evacuate as a precaution. Residents who evacuate should head toward Almondale Middle School (9330 East Avenue U in Littlerock). There were 100 homes north of the derailment affected by this evacuation.

According to officials, an odor in the area may have been from burning brakes, not chlorine.

Two occupants on the train, the operators, were not injured.

Union Pacific spokesperson Aaron Hunt released a statement Wednesday afternoon:

"A little after 1:00 p.m. today a 68-car Union Pacific train was headed southbound from Roseville to West Colton through the Littlerock area east of Palmdale. 21 rail cars on that train derailed. The cause of the derailment is under investigation. No injuries have been reported. Six of the 21 derailed cars are tank cars that typically carry hazardous materials. No spills have been reported from the six tank cars. Currently, the Union Pacific hazmat response team is working in collaboration with LA County Fire to determine if there are any leaks from any of those six tank cars. Though the six tank cars are currently empty, a thorough damage assessment will be made of each tank car before they are re-railed. LA County Fire has ordered a 2000 foot evacuation along the segment of railroad track where the incident took place."

For further information, contact the Los Angeles County Fire Department at (323) 881-2411, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department at (661) 272-0650, or the American Red Cross at (661) 267-0650.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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