According to the Tampa Bay Times, a train carrying thousands of gallons of ethanol derailed early yesterday morning, tipping over 11 cars and causing ethanol to leak, resulting in a shutdown of Tampa's port for hours.

The train, enroute from Chicago with two locomotives with 81 rail cars, derailed at 1am, spilling approximately 4,500 gallons of ethanol in the process.

The spilled ethanol was contained to the immediate area, according to a CSX spokesman, and the leaks in the rail cars were stopped. Environmental experts dug ditch lines in the area closest to the spill to prevent it from spreading, the spokeseman said. They also used vacuum equipment to remove the fuel.

Heavy wind and rain that moved through the area near dawn Thursday complicated efforts to contain the spill, fire officials said.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known, authorities said. CSX officials were investigating.

Firefighters were working with CSX to figure out how to right the toppled rail cars. They had requested specialized equipment similar to a crane to return the cars to the tracks, Benniefield said. One piece of equipment was coming from Atlanta and another from Nashville.

Sease said efforts to right the cars and clean the area had begun Thursday evening. Cleanup was expected to last into today.

Fire and hazardous materials crews spent part of Thursday coating the spilled ethanol with foam. Ethanol, a type of alcohol, is commonly used as a solvent, in thermometers and as a gasoline additive. By afternoon, many of the firefighters were relieved but some expected to be called back when the train cars are removed.

Authorities restricted access to the port in the derailment area while fire crews sprayed foam to dilute the ethanol and temper its flammability, Benniefield said.

Firefighters believe they avoided what could have been a dangerous blaze.