Three empty cars of a CSX freight train derailed last night in Baltimore's Howard Street Tunnel, but other cars - some carrying hazardous materials - were not endangered, a railroad spokeswoman said.
"There was no fire or leaking of any hazardous materials," spokeswoman Meg Scheu said from Jacksonville, Fla.
In July 2001, the tunnel was the scene of a derailment and fire involving hazardous cargo that shut down parts of downtown, and the mishap last night brought city fire crews and a hazardous-materials firm to the scene as an inspection began.
Scheu said two engines were pulling 114 cars south from Philadelphia to Florence, S.C., when three empty cars left the tracks about 9:50 p.m. but remained upright.
She said many of the cars were hauling soybeans and a few contained hazardous materials, but she could not identify those materials.
Moments after the derailment, which occurred between Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street, the train crew notified dispatchers, who in turn alerted fire and police departments, the spokeswoman and a fire official said.
Firefighters entered the tunnel to inspect the derailment and reported no fire or risk from hazardous materials.
"We had apparatus standing by, but no real emergency took place," the fire official said.
CSX officials were attempting early today to ascertain the cause of the derailment.