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Normal fire crews battle blaze after train derailment

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Photo courtesy Normal Fire Department

NORMAL (WEEK) -- Cleanup efforts from the derailed train incident on the Union Pacific Railroad sparked a fire Sunday morning which consumed at least two semi trailers full of cargo.

Normal Fire Department responded to the dead end of Hester Avenue at 9:48 a.m. Sunday to the report of a fire in the spilled cargo from the earlier derailment. Upon arrival, firefighters had heavy fire and smoke coming from the spilled contents of at least two semi trailers that were dislodged from the flatbed train cars from which they were being transported prior to the derailment yesterday, according to the NFD.

Fire crews worked to bring the main portion of the fire under control as quickly as possible due to its proximity to the apartment building at 609 Hester. Radiant heat from the fire damaged some of the vinyl siding on the building. 

Firefighters cleared the scene and turned control back over to Union Pacific Railroad at 2:10 p.m.. There were no injuries to firefighters or workers during the incident.  

In regards to a non-toxic runoff, the NFD released the following statement:

"Water used during firefighting efforts mixed with a material identified as non-toxic water-soluble paint that was present in the spilled cargo from the derailed train.   The paint mixed with the water and entered the storm drains which lead to Sugar Creek.   Attempts were made to put a floating boom across the creek to stop the flow downstream, but since the creek was frozen, the pigments flowed under the ice.  

A coordinated effort between Union Pacific Railroad, Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Normal Fire Department officials resulted in all appropriate measures being taken to quickly identify the substance and ensure that it was non-hazardous. The Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District sampled and tested the water in Sugar Creek and confirmed that there are no hazards to life.  The Environmental Protection Agency is working with officials and relayed no concerns for any environmental impacts.

Citizens will likely notice that the water, ice, and snow surrounding Sugar Creek looks discolored or has a reddish/orange coloring to it.  The discoloration will dissipate, and there is no risk to life or the water supply.  The ice and snow surrounding the creek may remain discolored until it has a chance to thaw."

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