SLINGER (WITI) — Slinger Fire Chief Rick Hanke briefed the media just after midnight on Monday, July 21st after two trains collided in Slinger on Sunday night, July 20th. Two people were injured — and taken to the hospital. The collision prompted evacuations of more than 100 homes near the scene.
Officials have blocked off an area from Storck Street to Kettle Moraine, and Slinger Road to Highway 60 — in the area of Slinger High School.
Chief Hanke says three engines derailed — and 10 rail cars derailed as a result of the collision.
Chief Hanke says hazmat crews have been called to the scene, as 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled as a result of the collision.
It began when two separate trains collided — a Canadian National train, and a Wisconsin Southern train. Chief Hanke says the tracks cross at the point where the trains collided — roughly a quarter-mile east of Kettle Moraine Road.
We’re told the two individuals injured were members of the train crew. They were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
Aurora Medical Center in Grafton told FOX6 News Sunday night they had one patient from this scene at their hospital. They learned a second patient was taken to the hospital — but exactly which hospital was unclear.
More than 100 homes were evacuated on Sunday night. Residents were being told to go to a friend’s house — and if that wasn’t an option, they were encouraged to go to Slinger Middle School — where a shelter was opened for evacuees.
The American Red Cross was called out to the school to assist evacuees.
As of 1:45 a.m., FOX6 News learned the shelter at Slinger Middle School was closed. The Superintendent of Schools and American Red Cross reported all evacuees had either found somewhere to stay, or were able to return to their homes.
Chief Hanke says evacuations were done because crews didn’t know what exactly they were dealing with when they first arrived on scene.
Chief Hanke says because diesel fuel is flammable and dangerous — residents are encouraged to stay away from the scene until further notice.
Hazmat crews, and six fire departments were called out to the scene. That includes 60 firefighters and 15 police officers.
Additionally, Chief Hanke says the railroad companies are sending out their own hazmat crews and mechanical teams.
Following the collision, two of the three derailed engines were on the ground, in line with the track. The third derailed engine was perpendicular to the track.
Crews were busy dealing with the spilled diesel fuel — and also lumber that fell on the ground from one of the lumber cars.
Chief Hanke said during his midnight briefing there is no timetable at this point for getting evacuees back into their homes.
Chief Hanke says at this point, the biggest concern is the leaking diesel fuel. He says there isn’t any concern over any other chemicals on the trains.
As for how/why this happened — that’s under investigation. Chief Hanke says he hasn’t seen anything like this since he has been Fire Chief — and he has served for five-and-a-half years.
The next media update on this incident is expected to come on Monday morning.
MONITOR FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.
This latest incident comes after a similar incident twelve years ago.
In July of 2002 (July 15th, to be exact), a 107-car Canadian freight train, carrying hazardous materials derailed in Slinger.
About 20 cars overturned in mid-afternoon on July 15th, when the Canadian National Railway Company train derailed.
Although the northbound freight train carried hazardous materials, a railroad spokesperson said the cars containing the dangerous materials were not involved in the derailment.
Contents from some of the cargo fed the fire that erupted in the wreckage, but no one was injured.