Three People Killed After Trains Collide in Oklahoma

GOODWELL, Maine -- A diesel fire continued to burn Monday east of Goodwell in the Oklahoma Panhandle at the site of the head-on crash of two freight trains that killed three people, local emergency management officials said.

The conductor of the westbound train jumped from the train before the crash and escaped serious injury, Union Pacific Railroad spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said. Numerous railroad cars derailed, and giant plumes of black smoke were visible from the fire.

The United Transportation Union issued a news release Monday identifying those killed as conductor Brian L. Stone, 50, of Dalhart, Texas; engineer Dan Hall and engineer John Hall (no relation to Dan Hall). Stone had been a conductor since September 2003.

The union identified the conductor who jumped to safety as Juan Zurita. Each train reportedly carried two crew members.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen about 10 miles away from the wreck at 10 a.m. Monday, a firefighter from Guymon said.

"We have crews out there right now and we were requested to go out there again today," said Dean McFadden, assistant fire chief for Guymon.

Guymon is some 300 miles northwest of Oklahoma City and about 130 miles north of Amarillo, Texas.

Shipping containers are being moved by heavy equipment brought in by crews hired by Union Pacific, McFadden said. As the containers are moved, firefighters are extinguishing flames.

Crews from Tulsa, Wichita, Kan., and Amarillo, Texas, have been working on the cleanup as firefighters from the surrounding area are using water and foam to extinguish the fire.

"It's pretty well contained," McFadden said.

The United Transportation Union said two other union members were killed in railroad switching accidents this year.

The National Transportation Safety Board plans an 11 a.m. news conference to release more information.

The collision happened about 10 a.m. Sunday, about one mile east of Goodwell in Texas County.

A train carrying vehicles was traveling west and collided head-on with an eastbound train carrying a variety of cargo. One of the containers was carrying resin solution, which is a hazardous material, but it did not catch fire. It was being doused with water to prevent fire or explosion.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The eastbound side of U.S. 54 was opened for two-way traffic about midnight Sunday, said Betsy Randolph, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman.

Randolph said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Texas County Sheriff's office are assisting OHP troopers to keep traffic moving in both directions for about a three-mile stretch of highway. Authorities anticipate opening up all lanes of travel sometime Monday, she said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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