POTTERVILLE, Mich. (AP) -- Homes and businesses that were evacuated after a Memorial Day train derailment remained dark and empty Wednesday as crews battled a dangerous propane leak from overturned rail cars.
It was the third day the town's 2,200 residents were kept from their homes, though Eaton County Sheriff Rick Jones said residents might return later Wednesday. Potterville schools were to remain closed.
Many expressed relief that no one was injured when 35 of the train's 58 cars derailed just after the town's Memorial Day celebration.
"So far we've been really lucky," said City Manager Kristine Silver, who spent Tuesday at a makeshift command center in the parking lot of a convenience store.
About 75 emergency workers from Canadian National Railway Co. and four local fire departments spent Tuesday burning off propane that was leaking from one of the cars. Canadian National spokesman Ian Thomson said the railway removed 19 of the derailed cars Tuesday.
Nine of the cars were carrying tanks of explosive liquid propane, Jones said.
The cause of the accident was not yet known, Thomson said, but county officials ruled out sabotage. The National Transportation Safety Board was monitoring the situation but was not expected to investigate.
Potterville residents were staying with friends or in hotel rooms paid for by Canadian National. Sheriff's deputies escorted some people to their homes to get medicine, pets and clothing.
Consumers Energy Co. originally shut off electricity to more than 1,000 homes so that sparks from electric wires would not start a fire, but had restored power to most homes by Tuesday afternoon.
Around Potterville, there was evidence that people left in a hurry. One backyard near the derailment was half-mowed, a lawnmower still sitting in the grass.
"We've got a chicken dinner sitting on the counter still," said Arnold Watters, 44, a mechanic who fled with his wife, son and dog after sheriff's deputies with bullhorns told residents to leave.
The semi-rural bedroom community is about 12 miles southwest of Lansing and 90 miles west of Detroit.
On the Net:
Canadian National, http://www.cn.ca/index.shtml
National Transportation Safety Board, http://www.ntsb.gov/
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