Nine train cars came off the rails in National City early Monday morning leading to 24 hours of traffic delays in the area, according to officials.
The cargo transport train derailed at around 2 a.m. on Tidelands Avenue, and police were notified at about 5 a.m., The National City Police Department told NBC 7.
“It appears the train was backing up at a slow pace when somehow or another became derailed and one of the cars struck the building,” NCFD Battalion Chief Robert Hernandez said. “Which was interesting and unusual.”
Some of the cars landed against a building for an electronic parts supplier called CNC Electronics West Inc. Vertical cracks could be seen on the building’s exterior walls.
The walls of the building are made up of single-slab concrete, Hernandez told NBC 7, and the cracks appear to extend halfway across the building in the front and the back.
CNC Electronics West Inc. has train tracks on both sides of the building.
Firefighters with the National City Fire Department and San Diego Fire-Rescue are investigating the building, and officials will soon deem if it is structurally sound.
Several trees were downed in the train’s path, landing on cars in the building’s parking lot. The train, however, barely missed two power boxes and a cellphone tower.
“We don’t usually see these kinds of things here. I think we were lucky to think that there were no structures other than the one behind us that were affected – was early in the morning, so there were no people here,” Hernandez said.
A SigAlert was issued for the area, and Cleveland Avenue, Tidelands Avenue, 24th Street, and 19th Street were all closed as crews cleared the train cars and fixed the damaged tracks.
Traffic delays in the area of Tidelands were expected to continue until Tuesday at 6 p.m but the SigAlert was lifted just after 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Olu Akinmurcle told NBC 7 his seven-minute drive to work took nearly an hour because of the crash.
“Half a mile from my house, I saw the traffic. I said, ‘What's going on?’ So, I started taking the side roads,” Akinmurcle said. “And then when I got here I saw this, I said, ‘No wonder.’”
Hernandez said typically, in cases like these, crews will clean up the entire area without moving the train, and then piece by piece remove the cars.
“It could be a long day, that is correct,” he said.
Akinmurcle echoed this idea, saying, “I know it’s not going to be an easy day today.”
While crews with the San Diego and National City fire departments and city public works responded to the area, Hernandez said it will likely fall to the railway to clear the area.
The cargo transport train is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Police told NBC 7 the train would be transporting cars or vehicles, but it is unclear if the train was loaded at the time of the crash.
No one was inside the building when the train derailed into it just south of Civic Center Drive. And no one aboard the train was injured, NCPD said.
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