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Train cars were spilled sideways across tracks and on nearby hills following an accident in Georgetown, Ky. The crash ignited a fire that forced the evacuation of nearby residents.
Train cars were spilled sideways across tracks and on nearby hills following an accident in Georgetown, Ky. The crash ignited a fire that forced the evacuation of nearby residents.Ron Garrison/Lexington Herald-Leader via Associated Press

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Two freight trains collided and derailed late Sunday, injuring four people and igniting a fire that forced nearby residents to flee their homes, authorities said.

The Norfolk Southern Railway moved the trains from the tracks several hours after the collision in Georgetown.

Four train crew members were taken to the hospital after the crash as a precaution and were released with no injuries, though one employee is still being evaluated, the statement said.

Officials say the trains collided head-on shortly before midnight Sunday, derailing both locomotives and 13 cars and igniting a fire that forced nearby residents to leave.

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Lieutenant Jessica Bowman, a spokeswoman for the Lexington Fire Department, said residents were allowed to return home once officials determined there was no safety risk.

Norfolk Southern later said a nonhazardous nut oil had spilled and was being removed.

The company said it is working to clear and repair the track and have it back in service Tuesday.

Shortly after the crash, police told the Scott County school superintendent, Kevin Hub, to open schools as emergency shelters, and buses were sent to the neighborhood to collect people without transportation.

Hub said he could see smoke billowing from the scene and the schools were prepared to receive hundreds of people. The Red Cross even arrived with snacks. Shortly after many residents arrived, they were able to return home.

The crash remains under investigation.

ASSOCIATED PRESS