Diesel train derailment sparks huge fire

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Media captionFlames light up the sky after train fire

A freight train carrying diesel has derailed and burst into flames.

People living within 800m of the blaze in Llangennech, near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, were evacuated from their homes on Wednesday night, but have since been allowed to return.

Police declared a major incident, put a cordon in place and closed roads.

The two workers who were on board the train have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

One Twitter user said they could smell burning fuel from “well over a mile away”.

The fire was reported at about 23:20 BST on Wednesday and police said it had been declared a “major incident” due to the “initial risk of harm” to people nearby.

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Adam Tilt

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Louise Perkins says she saw a “massive fire and black smoke” when she was evacuated with her children

Louise Perkins, who lives close to the railway line, said she grabbed some stuff and rushed from her home with her children, aged seven, 12 and 19, in the middle of the night.

The 38-year-old was up late watching TV when she heard an enormous bang: “There was this massive fire and black smoke.

“As we left it was just fire – you could see like balls of it puffing up, and the smell… the smell of diesel.

“It was just everywhere, and there were just black, black clouds of smoke in the air.”

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Pembrokeshire Herald

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Emergency services had dealt with a “fast-moving” and “large scale” situation, police say

Ms Perkins said she was “quite worried” when police explained “it could explode”.

“At that point my children were up and and they got really distressed,” she said.

Her 19-year-old son went to his friend’s house while her two younger children went to their grandmother’s.

“They were worried – ‘oh, what if our house catches fire, what about all the stuff?'” she explained.

“I told them not to panic. But my youngest was really upset, she’s seven, she was just heartbroken, she was crying.”

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Llangennech is near the Carmarthenshire-Swansea county border, in south-west Wales

BTP said it was conducting initial inquiries, including “securing key witness statements and CCTV”.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “The fire continues and there is still a substantial risk within its immediate vicinity, so our advice remains for people to avoid the area.

“Once the fire has been extinguished, and the scene is safe to assess and investigate, we’ll be working with the Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to establish the exact circumstances behind the incident.”

Police said it had been a “fast-moving situation”.

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The “fire continues and there is still a substantial risk”, police say

Sup Ross Evans, of Dyfed Powys Police, added: “The policing response was large scale, with officers across the force retained on duty to ensure we had sufficient resources to carry out the evacuation swiftly, as well as the deployment of a logistics specialist to assist and advise our officers on safely moving people from their homes to the reception points.

“The evacuation no doubt caused a significant amount of disruption for those evacuated in the middle of the night and I would like to personally thank residents for their response, as well as our frontline officers who swiftly moved hundreds of residents out of their homes.”

Those evacuated had been asked to meet at Bryn School and Llangennech Community Centre, police added.

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The fire continues and the smell is very strong, says BBC Wales reporter Kathy Peart

At the scene – BBC Wales reporter Kathy Peart

Even from a distance, the strong smell of diesel hangs in the air and in the past 20 minutes, the fire seemed to kick off again and thick black smoke was seen rising from the area.

I can see the hoses in action where the train is on the tracks, but the view is blocked somewhat by the trees.

The fire has since been damped down again and the smoke has turned white again.

The main road into Llangennech remains closed and multiple emergency services remain at the scene. 

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People have been advised to avoid the area

Gary Jones, a councillor for Llangennech, said the fire “seemed to die down and then there seemed to be fresh explosions”.

“The height of it was incredible,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

Mr Jones said about 100 people were evacuated and up to 40 went to the community hall, which has not reopened since the coronavirus lockdown.

He added: “Everyone has gone home now. The village is blocked, you can’t leave the village at the moment.”

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Pembrokeshire Herald

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Multiple emergency services and agencies attended

The A4138 is closed from Troserch Road to junction 48 of the M4 at Hendy, and the B4297 between Station Road and the A4138 is also closed.

The fire has also resulted in delays on passenger trains between Llanelli and Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Transport for Wales said.

All lines between the two stations have been closed and TfW said it expected disruption on all routes throughout Thursday.

Buses will be put on for services affected by the fire.

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Pembrokeshire Herald

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Residents needed evacuating as the fire service worked to bring the blaze under control

Ryan Milson, a photographer and reporter for the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper, said the train was taking thousands of litres of diesel in 22 tanks from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire to Reading when it derailed.

He reported eight fire appliances working on the fire at one point.

Mr Milson said a locomotive was being used to transport a number of carriages away from the fire.

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