Train carrying propane derails in southwest Indiana, forcing an evacuation

PRINCETON, Ind. — A freight train derailed in southwest Indiana and several train cars caught fire, possibly due to a propane leak, forcing the mandatory evacuation of nearby homes while authorities monitored air quality Monday, officials said.

The train derailed Sunday evening near a trailer park in Princeton, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Indianapolis, the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

No one was injured in the derailment, Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Curt Durnil said at a news conference Monday. Twenty-three freight train cars left the tracks. Rail operator CSX said in a statement that the cause is under investigation.

Several people called 911 to report the derailment and an explosion.

Parts of the train remained on fire Monday. Princeton fire Chief Mike Pflug told the Evansville Courier & Press that he is OK with a plan to let the fires burn themselves out.

CSX said preliminary reports show one of the cars leaked propane.

Durnil said five of the cars contained propane, and Pflug said smoke from burning propane presents no threat to humans. Durnil said most of the smoke was coming from burning cars loaded with fries.

“The french fries are what are causing the problem right now,” he said.

First responders on Sunday went door-to-door to evacuate people living within a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) radius of the derailment. Durnil said the state fire marshal’s office and CSX are monitoring air quality.

CSX planned to move some of the cars to allow better access to the parts of the train still on fire, Durnil said.