PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Investigators are trying to figure out what led up to a train derailment and fire on Friday evening in downtown Phoenix.

The big plume of black smoke could be seen through the downtown area. Flames were shooting out of the cars for more than an hour.

Fire crews were called out around 7:30 p.m. to the area of Ninth Avenue and Buchanan Street, which is south of Jefferson Street. When they got there, they saw at least two train cars on fire. However, there wasn't much they could do to save the train.

"They are generators on wheels, so spraying water directly on the car is a bad idea. It's not what we do," said Capt. Todd Keller with the Phoenix Fire Department.

train catches fire in downtown Phoenix

Fire crews believe an engine caught fire after five of the train cars derailed, causing a diesel leak. They also got information that 11 cars back of the fire, there was ethanol in some of the cars so crews didn't want the fire to spread there. So, firefighters had to stay back and let the fire burn itself out. They protected nearby buildings by making sure the flames didn't jump. 

"It's imperative we take our time with this," said Keller.

A Union Pacific spokesman said four box cars carrying plywood derailed while leaving a nearby rail yard. The locomotive caught fire. It's unclear why the train derailed.

train fire

Emergency responders took over about a square mile so they're asking everyone to avoid the area. Approximately 60 firefighters worked to extinguish the flames while even more crew members are managing the hazardous materials. The fire was put out around 9 p.m. No injuries have been reported and no buildings have been damaged. 


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