A freight train derailed as it travelled on a bridge that spans a man-made lake in a Phoenix, Arizona, suburb, setting the bridge ablaze and partially collapsing the structure, officials said.

Tempe police said there was another derailment in the same area last month that slightly damaged the bridge, but it's unclear if that led to the latest incident.

Union Pacific Railroad officials said 12 carriages derailed on June 26 and the repairs were done within 48 hours. It also said the bridge had its annual inspection on July 9.

About 90 firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze that followed, fire Chief Greg Ruiz said at a news conference.

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Local firefighters attempt to put out the fire on the derailed freight train.
Local firefighters attempt to put out the fire on the derailed freight train.

Video showed huge flames, thick black smoke and three train carriages in a park next to Tempe Town Lake.

Ruiz said crews were working to contain a leak from one derailed train car, and the liquid was going into a dry bed, not the lake.

None of the train's crew members were hurt but there was a report of someone suffering from smoke inhalation, said Tim McMahan, a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad. He said he did not know how many crew members were aboard when the train derailed.

The train travelling from Tucson to Phoenix had 102 cars and between eight and 10 of them caught fire, McMahan said. Several carried lumber and the three that fell to the ground beneath the bridge were tank cars.

Smoke fills the sky at the scene of the train derailment.
Smoke fills the sky at the scene of the train derailment.

Two were carrying cyclohexanone, a pale and oily liquid that is toxic and flammable. McMahan said a third tank car was carrying a "rubber material" but did not provide further details.

McMahan said the tank cars were not involved in the ensuing blaze.

Investigators with the Federal Railroad Administration were dispatched to start a preliminary investigation.

Officials say the freight train traveling on a bridge that spans a lake in the Phoenix suburb derailed and set the bridge ablaze.
Officials say the freight train traveling on a bridge that spans a lake in the Phoenix suburb derailed and set the bridge ablaze.

The National Transportation Safety Board will also investigate, officials said.

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Fire witness Camille Kimball told AZFamily.com she was riding her bike in the park below the bridge minutes before the derailment.

"I turned around to look and got the fright of my life," Kimball said. "Now there's fire pouring into the lake from the middle of the bridge ... It looks like a scene from hell, truly."

- AP