It wasn't immediately clear what caused the Union Pacific train to derail south of downtown Fort Worth, but the resulting fire ignited tanker cars and burned for hours. Residents were evacuated from about 20 homes as a precaution.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, said about 20 cars derailed.
No injuries to people were reported, but the three animals were killed when flames spread to a nearby stable that housed about 15 horses. People who rushed to the scene pulled the other animals from the stable.
Dario Diaz told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and his family heard what sounded like an explosion and felt their house shake but assumed it was thunder.
"The house always shakes like that when it storms," he said. "It felt like something out of a movie."
The derailment occurred as heavy thunderstorms were moving through the area, and aerial footage of the wreckage showed rainwater streaming past the cars. It appeared ethanol leaked into the water and hazardous material teams were working to contain its spread while monitoring air quality, Fort Worth fire spokesman Mike Drivdahl said.
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