Freight Train-Truck Collision Causes Explosion, Shuts Down Area East of Baltimore

The crash and explosion shook up residents, rousted workers and residents in mostly industrial area and produced dramatic witness video. One person was injured.

A CSX freight train collided with a waste-hauling truck Tuesday afternoon in an industrial area east of Baltimore, derailing 15 rail cars, damaging nearby buildings and causing an explosion that could be felt for miles. The truck driver, who was trapped briefly, was in serious but stable condition.

Baltimore County police identified the man they say was behind the wheel of the trash truck involved in the derailment of a CSX train in Rosedale as John J. Alban Jr., 50, a retired Baltimore County firefighter, of the 1200 block of Sussex Road in Essex.

He was said to be in serious but stable condition following the collision and explosion that shook the area for miles and created an outpouring of witness reports on social media.

Cars and onlookers went toward the scene, capturing it in dramatic photos and video. About 50 people walking along the train tracks to get a closer look at the derailment were turned away by police, citing safety concerns.

Davon Keller of Essex, who ran toward the smoking freight cars, said he had never seen anything like the accident. 

"I was like, Oh my God," Keller, 31, said.

Residents in the area reported on Twitter that there was a loud boom heard as far away as Canton, Pasadena and Perry Hall, and smoke could be seen billowing skyward from downtown Baltimore.

Two rail cars carrying chemicals continued to burn for several hours after the crash that caused 15 cars to derail, according to police and fire officials. The fire was brought under control near midnight Tuesday, police said in a statement.

Flames and a dark cloud of smoke could be seen billowing over the city for hours. The powerful explosion was caught on several amateur videos. (Caution: foul language.)

"I felt it on Silver Spring Road," a Patch commenter wrote. "My dogs were barking as if someone had just banged really hard on my front door. Yikes! Hold your breath everyone! CSX carries some dangerous chemicals."

Officials said there was no threat to the public from chemical exposure.

At least one of the rail cars involved in the derailment was carrying the industrial chemical sodium chlorate, which is classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a hazardous material, according to a news release from CSX. But the car carrying that chemical was not on fire, officials said, and there was no release of harmful materials.

The cars that were on fire Tuesday evening contained the chemicals fluorosilicic acid and teraphthalic acid, according to officials. Neither is a toxic inhalant.  Teraphthalic acid is used as a filler in some military smoke grenades and used in plastic-making; fluorosilicic acid is commonly used in the fluoridation of water.

"There's no evidence of any need for an evacuation or a need for panic at all," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. "The air here is clear."

Baltimore County Fire Chief John Hohman said the incident "would be much more serious if there were toxic inhalants."

No homes were evacuated as a result of the collision and explosion but businesses in a 20-block area surrounding the scene were notified of the incident. There was no mandatory evacuation, Hohman said.

The driver of the truck was listed in serious but stable condition at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, officials said. Two CSX employees—an engineer and a conductor—aboard the train at the time of the collision were not seriously injured, according to a news release from CSX.

Police said surrounding buildings were partially collapsed, with an auto body shop severely damaged. Homes in the area had damage to windows, witnesses said.

Police say they received a call at 2:02 p.m. May 28 reporting a derailed CSX train in the 7500 block of Lake Drive near an industrial park in Rosedale. The 45-car train was on its way from Selkirk, NY, to Waycross, GA, and was carrying a variety of materials ranging from lumber to printing paper, according to CSX.

Approximately 60 emergency units from Baltimore County and City as well as Martin’s State Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport were on the scene, according to a report from WJZ’s Adam May.

Exits to Route 40 from Interstates 95 and 895 were closed. Route 40 was closed at 68th Street at the Baltimore City-County line and at Rosedale Avenue, according to State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar. Gischlar also said that the Baltimore Beltway ramp onto westbound Route 40 toward Baltimore City was closed.

All lanes on US 40 and area interstate ramps affected were reopened as of late Tuesday.

Amtrak said the derailment did not affect its train schedule because the train was not on tracks it uses.


  • PHOTOS: Scenes of Near Disaster from Train Derailment in Rosedale
  • Check Train Derailment-Related Traffic on Patch
  • Live Coverage Replay of CSX Train Derailment in Rosedale
  • Train Derailment: What Did You See and Hear?

This article was updated at 7:32 a.m. Wednesday to reflect that the fire was brought under control.


DGAF May 28, 2013 at 07:06 PM
check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvJFe_JHEDo its of the explosion wow!
CP May 28, 2013 at 07:17 PM
I haven't seen anything like this since that Ronald Reagan film.
Buzz Beeler May 28, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Nick, great coverage for Patch, neither Channel 2 or 45 have anything except game shows. DGAF, great job on the video. Well done. Shook my whole house and I thought another earthquake.
Jeanne May 28, 2013 at 07:27 PM
We heard an explosion in Perry Hall and our house shook. Our dog was barking and trying to find the noise. First thought earthquake but my Hubby said no. Finally called police station and they told me train explosion. Hope no one is hurt.
Bderry May 28, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Oh my God man I bet that scared the hell out you my God.
CP May 28, 2013 at 07:52 PM
That was my first thought as well here at work in White Marsh. Our AC unit on the roof has to be dislodged. That thing rattled good.
Bderry May 28, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Why send hazmat and emergency responders when they are standing there watching like us...... A very expensive movie us taxpayers are paying for!!!!!
Sanchez May 28, 2013 at 07:59 PM
I see from the live video feed that no water is being used. Must be a chemical that water will make worse. Everyone is just standing around!
You May 28, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Yup in Perry Hall too. Shook my truck and heard the boom.
Paula Woods May 28, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Your interview with Adam May and Chuck was said the best. He gave a calm and detailed interview . Good job! Paula
Barbara McKenna May 28, 2013 at 08:54 PM
I thought it was a plane crash. I live in Essex
Eastsider May 28, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Really that's your best statement.
Grace B. May 29, 2013 at 12:53 AM
I don't know how I missed it. I usually hear every little "explosion" from the Proving Grounds. My dog didn't even react to anything. We're right in the middle of Perry Hall.
Ed May 29, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Buzz, they have no "air assets" so they couldn't show anything. Even Channel 13 with its copter was about an hour behind WBAL.
Ed May 29, 2013 at 01:08 AM
They needed to figure out what they were dealing with before they went in. Also, at that point, there was no immediate danger in the area.
Michael Tobias May 29, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Watch the rescue video by my guys at Eastern Truck and Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P3uf5SVOlg
Buzz Beeler May 29, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Ed, I am aware of that. Both pilots for 11 and 13 are retired county officers, Roy Taylor and Jeff Long. Channel 2 and 45 miss out on a major story like this. It takes them time to prepare a ground crew and then getting there is always a problem because of grid lock. Patch was on top of it because it uses the community to upload videos and commentary. I know money is key for 2 and 45 but for breaking news you have to be able to respond in a timely fashion.
Buzz Beeler May 29, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Michael Tobias, great work on the video. I don't think anyone else has that kind of shot. Very professional.
j duck May 29, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Was a Private grade crossing- Crossing had stop sign only- the RR has to provide crossing warnings if a public road crosses - negotiable, etc. with fed local govt. but if a private crossing (commercial or agriculture ) the private concern is responsible for the devices on their land!
j duck May 29, 2013 at 09:44 AM
no the trucking company and the industrial park owners will be paying for everything. no taxpayer money
Glenn Sr May 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM
I was sitting in my living room when my storm door rattled I thought it was my dog's tail hitting against the door, my wife was out front when she heard the explosion.
Breea Williams May 29, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I'm just hearing about this story. I'm just praising God because I haven't heard about anyone being killed. There was only one person injured in this catastrophic accident. That person is still alive. That's amazing! There must have been an army of guardian angels watching over everyone in that area that day!
Ashley May 29, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I work about 4 miles away... shook the whole building like crazy (felt like the earthquake we had). We thought the recycling place next to us had an explosion again, until we walked outside and saw the huge plume of smoke in the distance. It's incredibly lucky that no one was killed, looking up at the smoke I thought for sure that there was going to be a lot of people injured.
Kelly Blue May 29, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Thank goodness there wasn't a number of serious injuries but c'mom Buzz someway, somehow this has got to be, Kamenetzs', Smiths', Homans', Chief Johnson or Johnny O's fault. It just has to be. Buzz get the PIA started you'll uncover the conspiracy.
Kelly Blue May 29, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Sorry Buzz I forgot, Shellenberger was in on it too so add his name to the PIA request.
Kelly Blue May 29, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Whoops, missed some more, all of the developers because they're going to get all of the contracts to rebuild the buildings. So add Cordish, Vontran, Whalen, Greenberg-Gibbons and David Brown. Don't leave them out of the PIA. Have I missed anyone?
Buzz Beeler May 30, 2013 at 02:02 AM
Kelly you sound worried. Don't need a PIA on this one. I would say the SA is in a bad spot, as in whose job it is to take care of business? I think the term is called SP. Would you say that as nice gift from Jim Smith might have some bearing on this? I would not make fun of a tragedy like this. All of these issues come to me. My phone rings a lot.
Kelly Blue May 30, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Buzz I would say a tragedy is if people died, this is and was a terrible accident and fortunately no one died.Yes there is property damage and yes there will be lost dollars but lets be thankful no one died. There must be many a lost soul out there if your phone rings a lot. Are you admitting that this wasn't all of the above mentioneds' fault? Holy cow, dig deeper and start answering your phone. I'm sure your buddies like Buck Harmin know it's there fault. It's there you're just not looking hard enough. Keep trying.
Buzz Beeler May 30, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Kelly, I don't know Buck. I was not referring to this incident. There are a lot of issues in the county that you may or not know about depending on who you are. I operate alone and people come to me with information. When you have employees that are disgruntled and citizens who are upset people want a voice. There are some serious issues at stake and the people involved know what they are. There are so many issues I can't blog on them all. Go back and look at what I wrote. Every one was right on the money. I have been doing this since 1984 when I started as a freelancer for the Sun and then got a job with the News American. A good cop always has their ducks in as row before going to court. You have to.
Sham Craig July 26, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Well, Lets just be thankful that there is no threat to the public from chemical exposure. Sham@ www.div-ent.com


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »