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Train derails in Mojave Desert near Las Vegas

Updated March 28, 2023 - 3:42 pm

BAKER, Calif. — A long freight train carrying iron ore derailed in a remote area of the Mojave Desert on Monday but there were no injuries, authorities said.

Fifty-five rail cars loaded with iron ore and two locomotives derailed around 8:30 a.m. in the Mojave National Preserve, Union Pacific spokesperson Daryl Bjoraas said in emails to The Associated Press.

“I can confirm that the crew was not hurt,” Bjoraas wrote. ”We are still investigating what led up to the incident.”

Bjorass said that iron ore, part of the steel-making process, spilled from the rail cars but is not a hazardous material.

The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District said that there were no injuries and there was no fire. One locomotive had a minor fuel leak.

“No current threat to public or environment,” the district tweeted.

The derailment occurred near Kelso Depot, a historic railroad site developed in the early 1900s at the bottom of steep grade.

According to the National Park Service, “helper engines” were stationed at Kelso to help trains climb the grade. Kelso also had a source of water needed by steam engines.

The preserve is about 70 miles southwest of Las Vegas. Last summer, the preserve was closed a few times by heavy monsoonal rainfall.

Recent derailments

Earlier this month, a freight train carrying corn syrup — not hazardous materials — derailed in western Arizona, near the state’s border with California and Nevada, BNSF Railway said.

Last month, a train carrying hazardous waste derailed in Ohio.

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