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Baltimore still feels train fire's effects

BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- A freight train fire that sent clouds of black smoke billowing out of a rail tunnel continued to have effects on the city a day later, forcing the cancellation of a second Baltimore Orioles baseball game and hampering commutes around the Camden Yards ball park.

Thursday's 1:05 p.m. game between the Orioles and the Texas Rangers, rescheduled from Wednesday night, was called off Thursday morning, an Orioles spokesman said. The 7:05 p.m. game, however, was still scheduled to be played.

Officials with CSX Corp., which operated the 60-car freight train, said it was carrying a number of hazardous materials, including hydrochloric acid, a corrosive substance that can cause irritation to skin and eyes, and can cause breathing problems.

Early Thursday, Baltimore fire crews removing some of the train cars had to retreat because the fire flared. By mid-morning, officials said the fire was merely "smoldering" and the smoke had died down considerably.

Thin wisps of white smoke tinged the air around the tunnel, where thick clouds of gray and black smoke had poured out the night before. Nearby residents were told to stay inside and turn off ventilation systems in case the smoke posed a health threat.

CNN's Elaine Quijano reports on train fire (July 19)

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Map of incident site  

Fire department spokeswoman Mary Adams said it was not clear when the fire would be under control. She said crews planned to continue removing rail cars from the tunnel -- "as many as possible" by the end of the day.

Adams said firefighters identified a small hydrochloric acid leak from one of the tankers but were unable to get close enough to fix it. "It doesn't seem to be a major concern," Adams said.

The fire snarled traffic Wednesday afternoon and evening. Vehicles were rerouted around the city, and at one point all roads leading into the city were closed.

All major arteries were open Thursday, a police department spokeswoman said. The Mass Transit Administration reported some disruptions in light rail service around the tunnel and Camden Yards, and said the subway was operating at a restricted speed. The MTA information line advised riders to expect delays.

The accident happened at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday when "an emergency brake application" occurred, said CSX spokeswoman Kathy Burns. The two-person crew detached the locomotives from the rest of the train and moved them out of the tunnel to safety, following standard instructions, company officials said.

The cause of the fire was still unclear, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease. The company was working with city agencies, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration to investigate the accident, he said.

Two firefighters who suffered chest pains were brought to Mercy Medical Center. Adams said they were in stable condition Thursday morning.

• CSX Transportation
• Maryland Department of the Environment
• CSX Corporation

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