Heat-stressed rails may have warped Saturday afternoon, causing several cars in a CSX freight train bound for Hanover, Pa., to leave the tracks near View Street and overturn, spilling sand, gravel and grit.
Fortunately, no streets were blocked by the 3:31 p.m. derailment, according to Hagerstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Hopkins.
"The front of the train hadn't reached Eastern Boulevard and the last car had cleared View Street,'' Hopkins said.
A minor scare at the start of the incident came when firefighters discovered that the last car - a tanker carrying sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) - was tipped and off the tracks, Hopkins said.
"Fortunately, it remained upright and there was no leakage,'' Hopkins said.
CSX crews were on the scene cleaning up the spill and arranging to have the cars righted and removed. In addition, a fair amount of repair work will be necessary before the tracks can be ready for train traffic again, Hopkins said.