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Oregon train crash causes fire, evacuations

PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - A train derailed and smashed into a parked train carrying ethanol outside Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, sparking an intense fire that forced homes and businesses to evacuate.

The flames were so fierce that firefighters were withdrawn from the immediate area and attacked it from turrets from across a highway, Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau spokeswoman Alisa Cour told Reuters.

Crews dumped water on the blaze for about three hours before putting it out about 4 p.m. local time, Cour said.

Homes and businesses were evacuated for a one-half mile radius but no injuries were reported.

Firefighters were still spraying water after the fire was out "to make sure there are no residual flames," Cour said.

Several agencies are on the scene evaluating the area around the accident for possible environmental issues.

Cour estimated that between 30-40 trucks from Portland, Scappoose Fire Department and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue were at the scene.

Three of the 13 tanker cars carrying ethanol were burning, said Michael Williams, director of corporate communications for Genesee & Wyoming Inc., which owns the railroad.

Highway 30, which runs parallel to the train tracks, was closed.

The cause of the derailment is not yet known, Williams said.

Cour had no estimate of how long it would take to douse the fire.

(Reporting by Teresa Carson; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)