Runaway train carrying iron ore derails in San Bernardino; hazmat crew responding

A runaway train with no passengers derailed in San Bernardino on Monday morning, catching fire, according to authorities.

The train carrying cars of iron ore — the raw material used to make steel — derailed near Kelso, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District and fire department radio transmissions.

Fire engines and a hazardous materials team are responding, according to the government agency. The fire department confirmed around 11:20 a.m. that the fire was out, and that there were no injuries and no active threat to the area.

"It did derail and it is on fire. Carrying 180 cars of iron ore," said a man on the San Bernardino County fire and rescue radio channel more than an hour earlier. Another fire employee said there was a fire "under the first locomotive."

The department was sending water tenders to the scene to help battle the blaze caused by the derailment. But soon after the reports of fire, law enforcement at the scene confirmed there was no longer a fire and many of the fire trucks called to the scene were sent to other assignments.

The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District said it was on the scene with representatives from Union Pacific railroad company.

Union Pacific told The Times that the southbound train crashed around 8:30 a.m. Pacific time, with 55 cars and two locomotives derailing. The train was in the Mojave National Preserve, east of Barstow.

"The crew was not injured," said Kristen South, a spokesperson for Union Pacific. "The derailed rail cars were loaded with iron ore, which spilled. Iron ore is part of the steel-making process and is not a hazardous material. Further, there were no hazardous materials on the train. The incident is under investigation."

She confirmed no train crew members were in control of the train when it derailed.

"I can confirm the crew was not in the cab at the time of the derailment and there was uncontrolled train movement," South said. "No one was hurt and the cause is under investigation.”

One Twitter user, who reported the derailment 15 minutes before the fire department did, described a runaway train. San Bernardino authorities could not be reached immediately to confirm if the train was a runaway.

"Heard the crew jumped off and it was run away for over an hour," the user tweeted.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.