Officer recounts Texarkana train explosion 10 years later


A decade after a train collision killed one person and caused over $2.5 million in property damages TXK Today talked with one officer who caught the massive explosion on his vehicle’s dash cam.

At 4:56 a.m. on October 15, 2005, two trains collided in the Texarkana rail yard puncturing a hole in a tanker carrying propylene, a compressed flammable gas.

According to a report prepared by the NTSB, the flowing gas reached a house where an unknown ignition source ignited the gas, and the house exploded. The single occupant was killed.

NTSB Photo of punctured tank
NTSB Photo of punctured tank

“The fire moved quickly along the flowing gas back to the punctured tank car. A second, unoccupied, home was destroyed in the fire, and a wooden railroad trestle burned completely. Approximately 3,000 residents within a 1-mile radius of the punctured tank car were advised to evacuate the area. The two crews and the employees working at the Texarkana yard were not injured, and they evacuated the area safely.”

“It was a long time before I could deal with driving through the fog,” said Texarkana, Arkansas Police Corporal Randy McAdams, who caught the explosion on his dash cam.

As McAdams arrived at Hobo Jungle Park he could see a fog drifting low to the ground in the area. This was the propylene gas spreading out until it was ignited by a house near the park. The occupant of the house was the only person to die in the explosion.

Around 3,000 people were evacuated for a short time.

TAFD photo of the wreckage
TAFD photo of the wreckage

A Texarkana Office of Emergency Management report identified problems that occurred during the incident in which communications broke down between the police and fire dispatchers and the rail yard tower. For example, initial observations of a vapor cloud and chemical odor by the responding police units were not passed by the dispatchers to the responding fire units, a dispatcher put the yardmaster on hold to answer other 911 calls,

In response to the findings in the report, the city of Texarkana has modified its communications center protocols for dispatcher assignments and hazardous materials training and has revised its communications center protocols for recalling off duty personnel.

NTSB – Aerial view of Texarkana accident

View the full NTSB report .pdf

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