This was the scene on Hwy. 63, at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday and one and a half miles from the Union Pacific Railroad crash site in Hoxie. Smoke from the accident is visible in the background. TD Photo ~ John Bland

Two trains collide in Hoxie

At approximately 3 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, Arkansas State Troopers were notified of a collision in Hoxie involving two Union Pacific freight trains.

The collision has claimed the lives of two individuals and left two injured. All are believed to be among the crews onboard the freight trains.

As a precautionary measure a large number of Hoxie residents were evacuated. The evacuees were directed to the Walnut Ridge Community Center.

Officials of the Union Pacific Railroad reported both trains have toxic chemical cargo. A one and a half square mile radius was said to be the approximate area being evacuated.

A fire involving one of the train engines was still burning late Sunday morning, however it is not believed to be threatening any of the toxic cargo.

All highways leading into Hoxie were blocked by Arkansas State Police and local law enforcement personnel Sunday morning.

Motorists traveling along U.S. 67 through Lawrence County were being detoured onto Highway 91 east of Hoxie. U.S. Hwy. 63 is blocked off from the Hwy. 91 intersection, southeast of Hoxie, to the Hwy. 412 intersection, northwest of Hoxie toward Portia.

A Hoxie Fire Department captain reported that seven cars were derailed in the crash. Railroad officials were attempting to detach other rail cars to minimize damage with hopes of possibly opening up some of the highways by Sunday afternoon.

Walnut Ridge Community Center serves as evacuation center

American Red Cross and Union Pacific Railroad are on site at the Walnut Ridge Community Center to assist evacuees. Shelter Manager Henry Mitchell said that the facility has not been declared a shelter yet, but should the need arise, beds will be available for people to stay overnight. A conference for the evacuees is slated for noon at the community center, followed by a lunch.

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