Train Derails on Tempe Bridge, as Many as 10 Railroad Cars Catch Fire

smoke billowing into air above Tempe railroad cars that caught fire

Smoke fills the sky at the scene of a train derailment in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Officials say a freight train traveling on a bridge that spans a lake in the Phoenix suburb derailed and set the bridge ablaze and partially collapsing the structure. There were no immediate reports of any leaks. (Daniel Coronado via AP)

By Jessica Swarner

July 29, 2020

Despite the train catching fire and bridge partially collapsing, no one was injured.

The Tempe Town Lake area was filled with smoke Wednesday morning after a train derailed on a bridge and its cars caught fire. 

The Union Pacific train, which was headed from Phoenix to Tucson, crashed around 6:15 a.m.

Tim McMahan, a spokesman for the Nebraska-based railroad company, said no one was injured, but one person was treated for smoke inhalation. 

McMahan said eight to 10 cars had caught fire. Several cars fell into Tempe Beach Park when the south side of the bridge collapsed. 

The bridge was last inspected July 9, McMahon added.

Two of the tank cars that fell were carrying an industrial chemical while the other contained a rubber material, but none were leaking, McMahan said. 

He said the cause of the derailment was under investigation. 

Camille Kimball said she was biking under the bridge when she heard the “horrific noise” of it starting to collapse.

“I turned around to look and got the fright of my life,” she told 3TV. “Now there’s fire pouring into the lake from the middle of the bridge. … It looks like a scene from hell, truly. A scene from hell.”

Tempe Town Lake and multiple surrounding roads were closed until further notice.

A spokesperson for the Federal Railroad Administration said personnel have started a preliminary investigation.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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