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Indiana trains crash and derail, causing fire, evacuation

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Three freight trains collided and derailed on Friday afternoon in a rural area of northeastern Indiana, causing a fire, officials said.

The trains crashed about 11 miles northeast of Valparaiso, on the CSX line, according to David James, assistant highway supervisor with the Porter County Highway Department.

James said one train rear-ended another one, causing it to jack-knife, and a third passing train the "got caught in that jack-knife." All the trains derailed.

Two train crew members suffered non-life threatening injuries, he said, and all crew members have been accounted for.

James said there had been a fire concern since one of the trains was carrying ethanol, an alcohol, but the tanks turned out to be empty. Diesel fuel from the engine was burning, but as of 4:50 p.m. local time, "things are starting to quiet down somewhat," James said.

About 100 to 200 residents evacuated from the area north and east of the crash, James said. "We have blocked off all the roads and we're asking people to stay away from the scene," James said.

A spokesperson for CSX Corp. was not immediately available for comment.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Peter Bohan)