Train derails above busy West Allis street

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 07:13:33-04

An investigation is underway after a train with two workers on board derailed on an overpass in West Allis Thursday.

Police said the area around 103rd Street and Greenfield Avenue will most likely be blocked off for Friday's morning commute.

Union Pacific said the train was coming from Wyoming and headed to Butler, Wisconsin. They said the three locomotive train was hauling coal when it derailed. Police say 16 of 147 cars were involved.

"The train is about a mile and a half in length and there are several derailments along the length of that train," said West Allis Police Chief  Patrick Mitchell.

Police said the train went off the tracks shortly before 6 p.m.

Several residents witnessed the crash.

"Heard the big crash and I came out and all of a sudden I heard the fire engines and walked down here," said Gary Butzlaff.

"We have trains go through here all the time yah know night and day this one for some reason was a lot louder....Then, all of a sudden, it got quiet and there was this big smash," said Scot Dawurak.

"I thought it was smoke, but it was coal that came off....There was a part of the train down the track that came off," said Anthony Ireland.

"It was very loud and coals dumping on cars...It started ripping all the metal and it started ripping the cars apart and then the coals started dumping and then our whole neighborhood was cloudy," said Adam Etzel.

Police said there is no threat to the community, but ask the public to stay away from the track. Many people were trying to get near the train, some even attempting to go inside the train cars. Police said the cars are not stable and will have officers guarding the area overnight.

The two employees on the train got out safely. There were no injuries.

West Allis Police started an investigation. Union Pacific said they also have crews working to determine what caused the derailment.

About 900 customers lost power because of the incident. As of 10:30 p.m., power was back on for all customers in the area.