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Freight train carrying iron ore derails in Mojave Desert

BAKER, Calif.  - A long freight train carrying iron ore derailed in a remote area of the Mojave Desert on Monday but there were no injuries, authorities said.

Fifty-five rail cars loaded with iron ore and two locomotives derailed around 8:30 a.m. in the Mojave National Preserve, Union Pacific spokesperson Daryl Bjoraas said in emails to The Associated Press.

"The crew was not in the cab at the time of the derailment and there was uncontrolled train movement. The crew was not injured," Bjoraas wrote.

Bjorass said that iron ore, part of the steel-making process, spilled from the rail cars but is not a hazardous material.

The railroad didn't immediately say why the crew wasn't in the cab or provide more details about the uncontrolled movement.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District said that there were no injuries and there was no fire. One locomotive had a minor fuel leak.

"No current threat to public or environment," the district tweeted.

The derailment occurred near Kelso Depot, a historic railroad site developed in the early 1900s at the bottom of steep grade about 160 miles (257 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.

According to the National Park Service, "helper engines" were stationed at Kelso to help trains climb the grade. Kelso also had a source of water needed by steam engines.

 

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