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“Heard a boom:” Large train carrying coal derails in West Allis; no threat to public

Train derailment in West Allis via SKYFOX

WEST ALLIS -- Authorities are responding to a massive train derailment in the area of 104th and Greenfield in West Allis Thursday evening, July 6th. The mile-and-a-half long Union Pacific train had a 146 cars total -- 20 of them derailed.

The call to officials came in just before 6:00 p.m.

“It covers a long path. It’s about a mile-and-a-half long; it’s 147 cars so this is towards the front of the train. It extends about a mile to the rear and about a half mile to the front," said West Allis Police Chief Patrick Mitchell. "The majority of the derailment is over the south side of the Greenfield Avenue bridge."

Two people on board the train were uninjured.

Authorities say all the cars on the train were carrying coal, which means there is no danger to the public. However, officials are warning residents to stay away from the scene.

"We’ve had issues with citizens attempting to get a close look at the trains some have been up on the tracks some have been inside the trains and the trains as you can clearly see are not stable so the police and fire departments will be here for the foreseeable future safeguarding the area," said Chief Mitchell.

The derailment happened near the Lincoln Park mobile home park. People there heard loud booms when it happened. Neighbors say they often hear the train coming through, but this was different. The loud crashing sounds were followed by thick black dust in the air.

"It started buckling and we heard a boom. We thought something was on fire. We thought it was an explosion," said Jeff Griffith, saw train derailment.

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Officials with the DOT have reported Greenfield Avenue is blocked in both directions at S. 105th Street. Greenfield Avenue will be closed for an extended period of time due to the derailment. Morning commuters should plan accordingly.

Roughly 1,000 people in the area were without power due to the derailment Thursday evening, according to the We Energies Outage Map. We Energies says the outage was caused from one downed power line. There was no damage to any poles. They are hoping to reroute power to all customers as soon as possible.

West Allis police are investigating and federal investigators will be brought in also. The cause remains unknown at this time. Officials say it may take several days for that information to come.

FOX6 News will continue to monitor this investigation and will update this story when more information is available.