By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Source: Tempe Police Department and Tempe Fire Department (Information):
Pictures: Tempe Police Department, Scottsdale Fire Department, 12 News and AZ Family 3TV CBS 5 (Courtesy):
Downtown Tempe, Arizona: A freight train crossing a bridge over Tempe Town Lake derailed, caught fire and caused a portion of the bridge to collapse on Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 .
Firefighters from multiple fire department agencies, including from responded to Tempe Fire Department and Scottsdale Fire Department, responded to the freight train derailment at around 6:00 a.m.
Flames could be seen running the length of the bridge, sending dark clouds of smoke billowing into the air near Tempe Beach Park.
Several fire department trucks were seen spraying water on the flames for several hours while a fireboat was helping to spray water onto the flames and remnants of the fire from the Tempe Town Lake.
A partial bridge collapse occurred onto West Rio Salado Parkway.
The freight train from Union Pacific was hauling chemicals, lumber, and other materials before the derailment.
According to Union Pacific Railroad Spokesperson Tim McMahan, one of the railcars that collapsed with the bridge into a bed next to Tempe Town Lake was hauling cyclohexane, a highly flammable chemical that is used to make nylon or used as a paint thinner, and another railcar was hauling a rubber material.
During a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Tempe Fire Department Chief Greg Ruiz said one of the cars was leaking cyclohexane and that crews were working on a solution to stop the leak.
Chief Greg Ruiz also said that the chemical was not leaking into Tempe Town Lake.
In a news release, the City of Tempe said that the chemical was actually leaking into a storm drain, which disperses into the riverbed on the west side of the dam, and testing is underway in the area.
No other freight train cars were leaking materials.
The City of Tempe also said in their press release that, “it is unknown what, if any, impacts the derailment will have on wildlife habitats in the riverbed and surrounding riparian areas.”
According to Union Pacific, none of the train’s crew were injured in the derailment or fire.
According to Tempe Fire Department Chief Greg Ruiz, ine person was treated for smoke inhalation and a firefighter was sent to the hospital for dehydration.
The firefighter has since been released from the hospital.
The cause of the freight train derailment remains under investigation.
Investigators with the Federal Railroad Administration have been sent to the derailment site to start a preliminary investigation, and further updates will be provided at a later time.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Union Pacific officials confirmed that at around 4 p.m. on June 26, a Union Pacific train derailed about 12 cars on the Tempe Town Lake Bridge.
According to Union Pacific Railroad Spokesperson Tim McMahan, the rail line was reopened on the early morning of June 28, 2020.
Union Pacific Railroad Spokesperson did not say whether the June 26 incident had any connection to Wednesday’s fire.
People should expect investigators and emergency officials to be in the area for a while.
As a result of the investigation, several roadways near Tempe Town Lake, including portions of the Loop 202 Freeway, have remained closed throughout much of the day.
Due to the incident, Valley Metro has also terminated its eastbound service at 38th Street and Washington and westbound at Smith-Martin and Apache, and is using buses to re-route passengers between those two stops.
According to the City of Tempe, Tempe Beach Park and all of its activities, including boating, are closed until further notice.
Stay tuned to ZachNews for any more news updates regarding this breaking news story.