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Tempe police chief: No evidence of criminal activity in train derailment

PHOENIX — Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said Thursday there was no evidence of criminal activity in a fiery train derailment that happened a day earlier.

“At this time, there is nothing to suggest that this is anything other than a structural derailment,” Moir said during a press conference. “There’s nothing to suggest there is a criminal element.”

The investigation into the cause of a Union Pacific train crashing on a bridge on the south side of Tempe Town Lake around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday will continue, authorities said.

Railroad ties were damaged, causing a partial collapse of the bridge. Rail cars fell through the gap and landed in a park, which was empty.

The freight train included cars carrying lumber as well as tankers. About eight to 10 of the cars caught fire, the rail company said. Some cars fell through the gap onto a park below.

Two were carrying cyclohexanone, a pale and oily liquid that is toxic and flammable. A third tank car was carrying a “rubber material,” said in the email.

About 500 gallons of fluid leaked from a tanker, Tempe Fire Chief Greg Ruiz said Thursday.

The cyclohexanone ran into a city-operated storm drain that leads to a dry riverbed west of the lake dam, according to a Tempe press release. Environmental testing is underway.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Lupe Valdez said the railroad company would rebuild the bridge when possible.

“Our intention is to fix this bridge,” Valdez said. “It is part of our infrastructure. It is important to the Phoenix area.”

Valley Metro light rail service on a separate bridge over Tempe Town Lake resumed Thursday afternoon after the chemical leak was contained.

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