One crew member was killed and three others were injured Tuesday morning when a train crashed into the rear of another train in the Union County town of Mineral Springs, touching off a fire and forcing an evacuation of several families.

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© Davie Hinshaw
05/24/11 Emergency workers are on scene of a train accident in Mineral Springs where four people were injured Tuesday morning. One train crashed into the rear of another train touching off a fire and forcing an evacuation. The crash sent a plume of smoke into the air, but Union County officials say the trains were not carrying any kind of hazardous material. N.C. 75, the main through route between Monroe and Waxhaw, is closed in the area near the crash. Union County officials say the road will be closed for most of Tuesday morning.

The crash, which happened about 3:45 a.m., sent flames and a plume of smoke into the air, but Union County officials say the trains were not carrying hazardous material.

N.C. 75, the main through route between Monroe and Waxhaw, is closed near the crash. Union County officials say the road will be closed for most of Tuesday morning.

Union County officials ordered an evacuation around the crash, which happened near the junction of N.C. 75, Potter Road, and Old Waxhaw-Monroe Road. That is near the center of Mineral Springs, a town about 2 1/2 miles northeast of Waxhaw. The evacuation was ordered, authorities said, because of the smoke and flames coming from the train crash site.

Brett Vines, a spokesman for the county, said a half-dozen families -- about 12 to 15 residents -- were in the evacuation zone.

Neal Speer, Union County's fire marshal, said the liquid compound being carried on one train was vegetable oil. It was the vegetable oil that caught fire after the crash. The other train was carrying solid freight.

Firefighters put out most of the flames by 7 a.m., but the fire re-ignited about an hour later. Smoke was still billowing from the site after 9 a.m.

The crash happened a short distance from Station 15 of the Mineral Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and those firefighters are trained in dealing with train-related blazes, according to the fire department.

Speer said N.C. 75 will remain closed between McNeely Road Road and Potter Road for the forseeable future.

The Associated Press reported one train crew member was dead on arrival at Carolinas Medical Center. That man was among two crew members airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center. Two others suffered less-serious injuries.

Phyllis Thompson-Dolan, who was among those evacuated, told reporters she heard the loud sound of a train enginer before the crash.

"It sounded like it just kept running -- it made a lot of noise," she said. "The next thing I knew, the sheriff's office was knocking at the door."

According to CSX, the crash happened in the northbound tracks. One train, going from New Orleans to Hamlet, had two engines and nine freight cars. The other, headed to Charlotte from southern Georgia, had two engines and 12 freight cars. Police at the scene said one train apparently slammed into the rear of another train that was stopped on the tracks.

Waxhaw police, the Union County Sheriff's Office and Union County's Emergency Management Service are working at the crash site. the Mineral Springs Volunteer Fire Department, which has its base a short distance from where the crash happened, is dealing with the fire.

The American Red Cross chapter in Charlotte said it is opening a shelter for displaced families at Mineral Springs United Methodist Church, in the 5900 block of Old Waxhaw-Monroe Road. Red Cross officials said they are trying to assess the needs of families in the area.