At least eight double-decker shipping containers in a long freight train toppled shortly before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when they struck a bridge spanning the tracks on Main Street in Buffalo, but no one was injured.
Buffalo police said the Canadian Pacific Railway train that derailed on CSX tracks between Greenfield Street and Rodney Avenue did not threaten public safety.
The shipping containers were empty, said Peter Lotocki, Buffalo Fire Department division chief.
"Thank God there were no chemicals involved," said Deanne Ogurcak, who lives on Greenfield Street and heard a tremendous noise from the impact. "I thought it was an earthquake. My whole house shook. There was a boom and a bang."
The cause of the derailment is under investigation, Lotocki said.
Buffalo police, firefighters and the city's engineering division were at the scene with at least a dozen emergency vehicles. Police were continuing to inspect the damage to the containers, which were marked on the outside with "EMP," the name of a shipping company. The train had been headed south on the tracks. The train had numerous boxcars, but not all were double-deckers.
Vehicle traffic continued to pass by unimpeded on Main Street. The NFTA does not use the same tracks for its Metro rail cars.
One of the containers on the east side of Main Street could be seen lying on its side from the vehicle bridge over Main Street. The boxcar looked dented.
"It's a big mess down there," said a CSX worker who would not give his name. "It will be dark before it's cleaned up."
Jean Dickson, of Crescent Avenue, said she and other neighbors are worried about the freight trains that pass through their neighborhood.
"These cargo trains carry a lot of dangerous chemicals every day through here," she said. "You can see the placards on the cars warning of hazardous materials."
When the derailment occurred, John Messersmith was working in the Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St., which overlooks the tracks. He said the business meeting he was in came to a grinding halt. "I thought maybe a truck was scraping our building. It was a loud scraping sound," he said. "Our president ran to the window and he could see what was going on."
Bob Then, who has lived on the first block of Greenfield Street 30 years, said this was the first time a train has derailed on tracks in that area.
"It was very disconcerting. My building shook," Then said.
He said CSX performs annual maintenance on the tracks. "The tracks were updated a year ago. They redid the railroad ties," he said, adding it is not unusual for double-decker containers to use the line.