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Updated 07/05/12 – 7:32 a.m.
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (CBS) – Railroad workers have a big job ahead of them after several cars of a freight train hauling coal derailed near the border between north suburban Glenview and Northbrook Wednesday, and a rail bridge collapsed during the wreck.
Northbrook Fire Department crews responded to the derailment around 1:45 p.m. near Willow and Shermer roads. Officials said the 138-car Union Pacific train was hauling coal from Wyoming to Wisconsin at the time.
The train dumped coal everywhere, and came to rest under the railroad bridge over Shermer Road, which collapsed.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
CBS 2′s Brad Edwards reports officials said it could take months for crews to clean up all the wreckage. Thirty-one rail cars left the tracks as a result of the derailment and bridge collapse.
No vehicles appeared to be under the bridge at the time of the wreck, and no injuries were reported.
“I go under here a couple times a day, back and forth from work, and I’m just thanking myself that I wasn’t over here today at all. It’s just tragic,” said eyewitness Bruce Skeggs.
Several telephone poles were also knocked down, and sparks from live power lines ignited a fire in the nearby grass and weeds.
Witness Fritz Huszagh said, “Within a minute or two, there was wires were exploding or popping, you could see the sparks, and it sounded like a string of firecrackers going off. And, within a minute after that, the grass and the weeds next to the downed wires was on fire.”
That fire was quickly put out.
The affected stretch of track is freight-only, so commuter trains will not be affected.
There was another derailment at the same spot in 2009, and officials are looking into whether there was any connection between the causes of the two wrecks.