ORINDA, Calif. (AP)— Officials say a commuter train derailed and caught fire on New Year's Day in the San Francisco Bay Area, injuring many people and disrupting service.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit train left Orinda for Lafayette at 9 a.m. Monday when the first two carriages skidded off the track, agency spokeswoman Jim Allison said. He said that two automobiles were extinguished promptly after all occupants were evacuated.
Allison said many people were hospitalized with minor injuries. It was unclear how many were harmed. Returning passengers walked to Orinda Station.
The train was delayed, and passenger Enrique Gonzalez heard a “few loud pops” and “saw smoke billowing out in between cars” when it started rolling again. “I was sitting right there at the window and saw the flames shoot up,” he told the Chronicle.
Allison said early evidence suggested the disaster occurred at an interlocking rail segment where trains may transfer tracks. It was unclear what caused the disaster 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Oakland.
Officials did not immediately reveal how many passengers were on the wrecked train.
The Chronicle stated that Rockridge-Walnut Creek train service was suspended in both directions for 12 miles (19 kilometers). BART authorities said Orinda Station will likely be closed all day as crews remove damaged vehicles and examine tracks.
On New Year's Day, the metro system carried fewer passengers than normal, but Allison said the interruption will affect tens of thousands. He stated, “It's unfortunate people are stranded on a holiday like this”.