By David Boroff / www.nydailynews.com / June 28th, 2016
At least one person was injured and three crew members are missing after freight trains collided in Texas on Tuesday morning, causing officials to evacuate the area.
The accident occurred near the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo. The collision at about 8:40 a.m. involved two BNSF freight trains, with each train carrying two crew members.
One man jumped before the trains collided and is being treated at a local hospital.
Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the box cars strewn along the tracks. Billy Brown, a local farmer, saw a fireball erupt after the collision occurred.
"I don't know how anyone survived," Brown said. "It's terrible. I've seen a number of train wrecks but I've never seen one like this."
It's not clear how fast the trains were going when the collision took place, but the speed limit in the area is 70 mph.
“We saw it right after it happened," local resident Virginia Mize told the Amarillo Globe-News. "There was just smoke, cars and people. The conductor or the engineer, he was going over to the ambulance and had blood gushing down his neck and down his back."
"It sounded like lightning struck the back of my house, and then a clink-clink-clink sound,” she continued. "It started burning almost immediately."
Some nearby areas were evacuated out of concern the flames would cause a fast-moving grass fire, the Amarillo Globe-News reported. Officials also asked residents to restrict water use because the supply is being depleted by firefighters at the scene, according to KVII-TV in Amarillo.
Federal Railroad Administration investigators are on site, and emergency responders were still assessing the damage.
It's not clear whether new safety technology was being used along the track, a spokesman for BNSF Railway said. BNSF and other carriers have said they would meet a 2018 federal deadline to adopt the technology.
With that deadline two years away, it appears unlikely that the measures were in place when the collision took place.
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