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Interstate 40 closed near Arizona-New Mexico line after train derails

A freight train carrying fuel derailed and caught fire Friday near the Arizona-New Mexico state line, forcing the closure of interstate highway that serves as a key trucking route.

No injuries were reported in the midday train wreck east of Houck, the Arizona Department of Transportation said in a news release. Initial passersby posted video and photos on social media of crumpled train cars and billowing, black smoke.

Interstate 40 was closed by authorities in both directions in the area in the early afternoon, directing trucks and motorists off the freeway to alternate routes, New Mexico State Police and the Arizona Department of Public Safety announced.

The train was transporting non-odorous propane and gasoline, and a half-dozen rail cars caught fire and burned for hours after the derailment, New Mexico State Police Lieutenant Phil Vargas said.

Nearby residences and a convenience store were evacuated as a precaution as winds carried away thick smoke and local firefighting crews responded.

“It looks like they're just letting those (rail) cars burn themselves out," Vargas said.

Traffic on I-40 backed up for more than 10 miles, though detours were opened on two-lane roads and highways, said Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Railroad officials did not immediately respond to a telephone message and emails.

Associated Press