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BART train derails, catches fire between Orinda and Lafayette stations; at least 9 injured

Derailed BART train back on the track
Derailed BART train back on the track 04:59

ORINDA -- A BART train derailed and caught fire between the Orinda and Lafayette stations Monday morning, forcing passengers to evacuate the train and leaving at least nine people hurt on the first day of 2024.

Two BART train cars that derailed Monday morning in Orinda were successfully put back onto the tracks by a crane, according to a 7:10 p.m. update from BART.

UPDATE: BART says failed attempt to manually route train after system glitch preceded derailment, fire

The cars will be reattached to the cars that did not derail and the train will be towed away from its location on the eastbound tracks just outside the Orinda station.

Repairs to the tracks have been begun and one-way traffic, at a minimum, is anticipated for Tuesday morning, BART said in an update on its website, with full yellow line service depending on the speed of repairs.

"Obviously we'll be working throughout the night to update [the BART website] and keep it updated ... we will return to service as soon as it's safe to do so," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

UPDATE: BART service on Yellow line returns to normal following New Year's Day derailment

The incident began shortly after 9 a.m. when an eastbound train partially derailed just outside the Orinda station. Two cars caught fire following the derailment forcing passengers to evacuate themselves from the burning cars. 

Nine people were taken to area hospitals and their Injury status was unknown, according to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. Earlier Monday, the Orinda-Moraga Fire Department reported at least two minor injuries while BART initially said there were no injuries reported.

In an afternoon update, BART said the partial derailment occurred at an interlocking between the Orinda and Lafayette stations. Just before the derailment, BART said its Operations Control Center instructed the train operator to manually align the route at the interlocking because a signaling issue prevented the computer from doing it. The operator was manually moving the train when it derailed and the details about what happened were still under investigation, BART said.

At around 4:45 p.m., crews closed the left two lanes of eastbound Highway 24 between Wilder Road and St. Stephens Drive to reposition the train cars.

Passengers from one car said after the derailment they were forced to jump out of one end and run along the trackway away from a growing fire under the car.

"We had to, like, all jump out and then run as fast as we could because it wasn't - the smoke was getting bigger and bigger, and you know how a car smokes and then explodes? We didn't want that to happen, so like we just gotta run for our lives, literally, like running for our lives," said passenger Lia Burrell.

BART passengers describe New Year's Day derailment and fire on train 02:19

Burrell added that other passengers could see there was a serious issue after observing passengers from the burning cars running along the trackway passed their stopped BART cars.

"We were running, tumbling, falling, like, running and then everybody else started to get the hint," said Burrell.

It was not immediately known what caused the train to derail. 

Raw video: Scene of BART derailment, fire between Orinda and Lafayette stations 00:54

The Orinda and Lafayette stations were closed after the derailment and Yellow line riders were advised to seek alternative transportation. There was no service between the Rockridge and Walnut Creek stations, BART said.

AC Transit was providing free bus service to cover BART station stops between the Walnut Creek and Rockridge stations, making all stops between the stations in both directions, officials said.

Traffic along Highway 24, which runs parallel with the BART line through the Orinda and Lafayette stations, was impacted in both directions during the response to the derailment and fire. Initially, the California Highway Patrol closed all lanes of Highway 24. 

By 11 a.m., all lanes of Highway 24 had been reopened but residual traffic delays remained.

There was no estimated time given for the Orinda and Lafayette stations to reopen, and major delays remained on the Antioch (Yellow) Line in the Antioch and San Francisco International Airport directions.

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