Three in a set of moving railroad cars carrying coal derailed in Hazle Township on Tuesday afternoon.
Hazle Township Fire and Rescue was alerted to the derailment of the gondola-style cars near Spartan Circle and Seagrave Court in the village of Japan, Jeddo, around 3 p.m. by Luzerne County 911.
Fire Chief Scott Kostician said each Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad car was lugging about 112 tons of coal. About 336 tons of coal was dumped during the derailment, he said. Some of the fallen coal and the cars landed on freshly fallen snow on the side of the tracks and a set of track-side pine trees, causing them to lean.
Firefighters taped off the area with yellow caution tape to prevent people from getting too close to the disabled train and asked a neighbor to move her two vehicles in the event the trees fell.
Kostician said neighbors called for emergency responders help upon hearing the crash. The first toppled car, he said, had its wheels ripped off during the derailment. Two other rail cars also went off the tracks while multiple other cars behind them remained on the railroad.
He said the rail line is a 10 mph line, which is the slowest type of track and a sink hole was reported to the railroad company this year but he doesn't believe anything was done about it.
He said the actual railroad appears to be in good shape but the rail bed appears to have dropped in spots.
A railroad official, he said, was contacted and expected to inspect the site but he believed it would be a while possibly days before the rail cars were moved, possibly by a crane.
No injuries were reported.
Ryan Lamoreux said the coal was dumped near his home and recalled hearing the initial bang that afternoon, followed by subsequent bangs that almost sounded like a car crash.
His mother, Rose Lamoreux, said it "just didn't sound like the normal train" as it passed through Jeddo as it typically does. Soon after, Rose recalled hearing, "Crash, crash, crash!"
She remembered another derailment about 10 to 15 years ago in the same area while Kostician remembers a derailment about five years ago in nearby Ebervale.
Distributed by MCT Information Services