ROSEDALE, Md. -- A CSX freight train crashed into a trash truck and derailed yesterday in a Baltimore suburb and the explosion that followed rattled homes at least a half-mile away, sending a plume of smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.
The train went off the tracks about 2 p.m. in Rosedale, east of Baltimore. The truck driver was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but two CSX workers aboard the train weren't hurt, fire officials said.
Hazmat teams were on the scene, but Baltimore County Fire Chief John J. Hohman said at a news conference that no toxic inhalants were burning and officials did not order an evacuation.
Dale Walston said he lives about a half-mile away and that he thought he could smell chemicals.
"It shook my house pretty violently and knocked things off the shelves," he said in an email to The Associated Press.
An hour after the blast, the thick plume of black smoke covered the eastern part of the city.
CSX spokesman Gary Sease said in an email that one of the train cars carried sodium chlorate, which the Department of Transportation classifies as a hazardous material. Hohman said the chemical is not in any of the cars that was still burning into the evening.
Earlier, fire officials had said buildings had collapsed, but Hohman modified that to say two warehouses were heavily damaged by the explosion and other buildings were harmed, but none collapsed.
An Amtrak spokeswoman said its Northeast Corridor service is not being affected.
Kevin Lindemann, 29, a salesman for industrial pipe supplier Baltimore Windustrial near the tracks, said he and about 10 co-workers felt the ground shake, ran to a window and saw several cars on their sides and flames he estimated were 50 feet high.
"We kind of panicked pretty quick," he said. "We didn't wait around to see what was happening. So as soon as we saw the flames I took a quick picture and got in my truck and drove away. I wasn't sticking around for the explosion."
Everyone left the building and drove several blocks away. Then they heard the explosion, five to 10 minutes after the derailment, he said.