Huge explosion erupts after 18-wheeler hits fuel train in Texas

An 18-wheeler collided with a train carrying chemicals and fuels in Cameron, Texas, early Tuesday morning, causing a large explosion and a fire that is expected to last several days.

The Milam County town of 5,400, about 72 miles northeast of Austin, was rocked by the boom around 6:45 a.m., according to Cameron Sheriff Chris White.

White said the driver of an 18-wheeler lost control of his vehicle, was unable to stop, turned around a parked vehicle and entered a railroad crossing, where his truck collided with a passing BNSF train.

“No one was injured or killed,” White said.

A barn burned to the ground and several nearby houses were evacuated, but most of the people have returned to their homes.

The first 11 cars of the train were filled with gasoline, coal and petroleum products, causing the initial explosion and fueling a fire that was still burning Tuesday night, White said.

Smoke rises from a fire following an explosion caused by an accident between a train and an 18-wheeler near Cameron, Texas, on February 23, 2021.Milam County Sheriff Chris White

A car downstream of the train filled with phosphoric acid solution was uncoupled and brought to safety before the burning fuel cars could start it, and a specialized fire team sent from BNSF arrived with heavy equipment to extinguish the fire.

“They have a lot of people working on it,” White said Tuesday night. “They indicate that it could take up to two or three days to extinguish all the fire.”

Seven or eight homes in the “very rural area” are affected, and those residents could be displaced for several days, White said.

Courtney Wallace, a spokeswoman for the BNSF, confirmed that an investigation is underway and said 13 of the train’s 110 cars derailed, 10 of which continued to burn Tuesday night.

“Once the fire is out, we will be able to determine the amount of product left in the cars and work to safely remove it from the site,” Wallace said in a statement. “Air quality tests in the area are ongoing.”

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