PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A train towing cars full of oil derailed Friday in Oregon’s scenic Columbia River Gorge, sparking a fire that sent a plume of black smoke high into the sky.
The accident happened just after noon near the town of Mosier, about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved eight cars filled with oil, and one was burning, said Ken Armstrong, state Forestry Department spokesman.
Highway 84 was closed for a quarter-mile near the site, and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.
The train was operated by Union Pacific. A spokesman for the railroad didn’t immediately return calls.
Silas Bleakley was working at his restaurant in Mosier when the train derailed.
“You could feel it through the ground. It was more of a feeling than a noise,” he said as smoke continued to billow from the tankers.
Bleakley said he went outside, saw the smoke and got in his truck and drove about 2,000 feet to a bridge that crosses the railroad tracks. There, he said he saw tanker cars “accordioned” across the tracks.