Huge explosion erupts after 18-wheeler hits fuel train in Texas

An 18-wheel truck hit a train carrying chemicals and fuels in Cameron, Texas, early Tuesday, causing a huge explosion and starting a fire that is expected to burn for several days.

The Milam County town of 5,400, about 72 miles northeast of Austin, was rocked by the boom around 6:45 a.m., according to Cameron Sheriff Chris White.

White said the driver of an 18-wheel flatbed truck lost control of his vehicle, was unable to stop, swerved around a parked vehicle and into a rail crossing, where his truck struck a passing BNSF train.

“Nobody was injured or killed,” White said.

A barn burned to the ground, and several nearby houses were evacuated, but most people have returned to their homes.

The first 11 cars of the train were filled with gasoline, coal and petroleum products, causing the initial explosion and fueling a fire that was still burning Tuesday evening, White said.

Smoke billows from a fire following an explosion caused by a crash between a train and an 18-wheeler near Cameron, Texas, on Feb. 23, 2021. (Milam County Sheriff Chris White)

Smoke billows from a fire following an explosion caused by a crash between a train and an 18-wheeler near Cameron, Texas, on Feb. 23, 2021. (Milam County Sheriff Chris White)

A car further down the train filled with phosphoric acid solution was unhooked and moved to safety before it could be ignited by the burning fuel cars, and a specialized fire crew sent from BNSF arrived with heavy equipment to extinguish the blaze.

“They have got a lot of people working on it,” White said Tuesday evening. “They are indicating that it could take up to two or three days to actually extinguish the entire fire.”

Seven or eight homes in the “very rural area” are affected, and those residents could be displaced for several days, White said.

Courtney Wallace, a BNSF spokesperson, confirmed that an investigation is underway and said 13 of the train’s 110 cars derailed, 10 of which continued to burn Tuesday evening.

“Once the fire is extinguished, we will be able to determine how much product is left in the cars and work to safely remove them from the site,” Wallace said in a statement. “Air quality tests in the area are ongoing.”

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