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Amtrak Downeaster Train And Dump Truck Both Catch Fire In Deadly Collision

NORTH BERWICK, MAINE (CBS/AP) - An Amtrak Downeaster train carrying 112 people barreled into a dump truck in North Berwick, Maine just after 11 a.m. Monday, killing the driver of that truck.

An official from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority confirmed that both the truck and the train caught fire.

In Pictures: Downeaster Crash

The explosion that sent flames more than three stories high, a witness and officials said.

WBZ-TV's New Hampshire Bureau chief Lauren Leamanczyk reports.

None of the train's 112 passengers or two crew members suffered life-threatening injuries. Patricia Quinn from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority said four passengers and two crew members were hurt. Three were taken to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, where all were treated and released.

The truck driver was identified as 35-year-old Peter Barnum or Farmington, New Hampshire. He was hauling trash to a landfill when he collided with the train in North Berwick, about 40 miles south of Portland.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports.


Tom Gorski, who works in a building 50 yards from the intersection, said he heard the approaching locomotive, then a massive boom that shook the building.

He said he ran to the scene, where the truck's cab was split with half on each side of the tracks. The ground was littered with trash from the tractor-trailer.

Watch SkyEye over the scene:

"It looked like somebody dropped a bomb. The flames were shooting higher than a three-story house," said Gorski. "It brings tears to your eyes."

There were skid marks on the road leading to the impact, suggesting the driver was trying to stop, Gorski said.

After the impact, the northbound train dragged the truck's cab about 200 yards, then the train continued on before coming to a stop, said Deputy Fire Chief Larry Straffin.

The train's engineer hopped off the locomotive and separated the burning engine from the passenger cars to keep the flames from spreading, Straffin said. Firefighters had to drag hose down the train tracks to douse the fire to the locomotive, he said.

It was unclear how many were injured. Amtrak said four people were hurt, and Straffin put the figure at six. Three were taken to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, where two were being treated for smoke inhalation and the third for a head injury, a spokeswoman said.

The locomotive was totally charred after the fire was extinguished, obscuring its markings, said Brianna Bataran, 17, of North Berwick. "You couldn't even tell what kind of train it was."

The collision happened on Route 4. The road remained closed Monday afternoon. Police chief Stephen Peasley told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz the plan was to reopen at least one lane by Monday night.

Service on the route was delayed after the collision. Nearly 1,400 passengers use the Portland-to-Boston service, which is operated by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in Portland.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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