CRAMERTON A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed Monday in eastern Gaston County, forcing the evacuation of about 40 homes because of possible chemical leaks, officials say.
No one was injured and streets closest to the railroad bed are expected to be reopened by Tuesday afternoon, after the damaged train cars are removed. First responders have not said what the train was carrying, although a woman who lives near the tracks said one of the cars had the word Petroleum written on it.
Cramerton Town Manager Michael Peoples said nine cars were involved in the derailment, which occurred about 5 p.m. in a residential area just across the Catawba River from Mecklenburg County.
Gaston County hazardous materials teams were on the scene along 8th Avenue to determine whether chemicals were leaking. Maj. Clyde Cantrell of Gaston County Emergency Medical Services was one of the first responders on the scene after the derailment. He said some of the cars that derailed were open container cars, but others were closed cars that would hold some type of liquid or gas.
As a precaution, everyone within about 150 feet of the derailed cars was moved to First Baptist Church in Cramerton, officials said. Peoples said about 75 people were affected. About 20 people had made their way to the church around dinner time Monday.
Ghada Ternanni, 18, said she was in the kitchen when she heard the screeching and crashing from the derailment.
She watched from her front porch as firefighters and other first-responders came to the scene, but only began to worry when a firefighter came to her door and said shed have to leave her home.
They knew what it was, she said. The firefighter said there was a chance that it could blow up.
The evacuation order was lifted about 7 p.m. when officials said spillage from the derailment had been contained and that there was no danger to residents. Staff writer Joe DePriest contributed.