On July 11, 2012, at 2:03 a.m. eastern daylight time, eastbound Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS) freight train 186L809 derailed 17 cars on the NS Sandusky District at milepost (MP) S2.2 on main track 1. The derailment occurred on the NS Lake Division and within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. The train consisted of 2 leading locomotives, 97 loaded freight cars, and 1 empty freight car.
The derailment destroyed both main tracks (1 and 2). The 3rd through the 19th cars derailed. Cars 12 through 14 contained denatured ethanol (a hazardous material). One of these tank cars was punctured during the derailment. The denatured ethanol from this punctured tank car fueled a large pool fire. The two other tank cars that were carrying denatured ethanol were engulfed in the pool fire and split open. Witnesses observed multiple energetic fire eruptions when these two tank cars ruptured
The train crew was not injured; however, one person near the derailment site sustained minor burns. About 100 people in a 1-mile radius of the derailment were evacuated. The damages were estimated to total $1.2 million. At the time of the accident, the sky was clear, and the temperature was 70°F.