The derailed freight train in Westford. Photo by Samantha AllenSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
The derailed freight train in Westford. Photo by Samantha Allen

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

WESTFORD -- Pan Am Railways said the derailment of five railroad cars near Bridge Street should be corrected by this afternoon.

Westford police and fire crews along with Pan Am Railways were on site Thursday at the overpass near Bridge Street and North Main Street where five freight cars were spotted teetering over the edge.

Police Sgt. Marco Pro reported the scene is "safe" for the time being, though officials say they have concerns for LPG, or liquified petroleum gas, housed inside at least two of the tank cars. Pro said there are no evacuations at this time and only a portion of Bridge Street has been closed.

Pan Am Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano said she did not have a cause at the moment, but hoped everything would be cleared by 5 p.m. She said a locomotive from Chelmsford had been sent over around 1 p.m. to pull the cars back on their track by way of towing them into position.

She said she did not believe there was a threat to the public and confirmed two vehicles were carrying LPG.

"These are very heavily constructed," Scarano said. "I have confidence."

Westford Town Manager Jodi Ross, however, was not impressed. Ross she was "dismayed" Pan Am did not find this to be an "urgent matter." She said she was not notified until 9:30 a.m. when Fire Chief Joe Targ happened upon the area. She stressed the town is prepared for a crisis. Evacuation centers were set up at the Rita miller and Westford Academy schools wit buses ready to transport people.


Ross told The Sun at about 11 a.m. she and officials were meeting to stage a plan and the railway chief for Pan Am arrived on scene, though crews declined comment. Ross said the derailment occurred at about 11 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Police officers went door to sore notifying neighbors of the situation and to be prepared to move.

At about 1 p.m. Pan Am arrived to pull the cars forward. The operation appeared to go smoothly. Scarano said mechanical engineers would work through the weekend to determine the cause of this incident. She added her crews work to analyze the engine using a computer readout similar to a vehicle's "black box" readings.

At about noon Thursday, there was a faint smell of gas in the air as well

This is the third train derailment reported recently. On Tuesday, a Pan Am car went off its track in a low-speed derailment due to ice building up on the rails. Then in Gardner on Wednesday at about 4 p.m. the Providence and Worcester Railroad Company responded to the derailment of some its cars.

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