A train carrying hazardous materials derailed and caught fire near the north-central Maine village of Rockwood on Saturday, but officials said there was no threat to public health or safety from the derailment.

The Canadian Pacific Kansas City freight train derailed about 8:30 a.m. in Sandwich Academy Grant Township in Somerset County, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Three locomotive engines and six rail cars carrying lumber and electrical wiring derailed into a wooded area, where they ignited and started a small forest fire. In the statement issued about 6 p.m., the department said the fires were contained and being monitored.

Additional rail cars transporting hazardous materials did not derail, the statement said, and officials on the scene said the hazardous materials were not at risk of leaking or catching fire.


Three railroad employees were sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


An early assessment indicates that the derailment may have been caused by a build-up of melting ice and debris that washed out part of the railroad track, the department said.

CPKC said in a statement Saturday night that the derailment occurred when the train encountered a track washout, and the fire at the scene involved only locomotives and lumber cars. The incident took place about 15 miles east of Jackman.

“The hazardous materials being carried by the train are not involved in that fire,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for CPKC did not respond to an additional inquiry asking for more information about what the materials were, and where the train was headed to and traveling from. The company’s statement said there were no evacuations and no threat to public safety.

“We are coordinating with local first responders who are on scene,” it said. “Our emergency response teams and hazardous materials experts have responded and continue to conduct a full assessment of the situation.”

The Maine Forest Service, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and local first responders were at the scene Saturday evening, and a unified command center was established in Jackman.


Gov. Janet Mills tweeted Saturday night that she had been briefed on the situation and officials on-site had indicated there was no threat to public health or safety.

“We will continue to monitor the situation, and I thank all emergency first responders for their quick action,” Mills said.

First responders said the derailment is 3 miles east of Demo Road Bridge and crews were using heavy equipment to clear a snowmobile trail to get access.

Rockwood is a mostly rural area near Moosehead Lake, one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the state.

The derailment is the latest one to plague the rail industry. Federal regulators and members of Congress are urging railroads to do more to prevent derailments after recent fiery wrecks involving hazardous chemicals in Ohio and Minnesota prompted evacuations.

Morning Sentinel reporter Amy Calder and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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