Officials evacuate area after train derails in suburban Chicago

Emergency officials ordered what turned out to be a relatively brief evacuation after a freight train derailed in suburban Chicago on Thursday.

The Canadian National Railway train derailed in the village of Matteson around 10:30 a.m. The company issued a statement about 1:30 p.m. saying that about 25 cars derailed. There were no reports of fires or injuries, although one car containing “residue liquified petroleum gas” leaked, the company said.

Steve DeJong, a firefighter with a statewide hazardous material response team, said during an afternoon news conference that the substance is commonly known as propane — “just like you’d use in your grill” — and the train was carrying only residual amounts.

Propane is flammable, and emergency responders didn’t know how much of it they were dealing with they arrived at the derailment so they ordered a two-block radius evacuated as a precaution, Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin told reporters. The evacuation order applied to up to 300 people, she said.

DeJong said the leak was small and firefighters were able to contain it. The propane that did escape evaporated, dispersing so widely that it didn’t register on detectors, he said.

“We are now telling our residents there is no danger to any of them at this time and they can return home,” Chalmers-Currin said. “There is no danger. There is nothing toxic that will harm anyone here.”

A Federal Railroad Administration spokesman said it had a team on its way to the derailment site to investigate. He didn’t have any further details.

Matteson is a village of 19,000 people about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Chicago and 27 miles (43 kilometers) west of Gary, Indiana. Democratic U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly has a home there.


Associated Press writer Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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