updated 1/26/2007 8:23:25 PM ET 2007-01-27T01:23:25

Some residents forced from their homes when a train derailed last week may not be allowed back for almost a month, officials said.

Fifteen families may have to stay away while water service is re-established, said Gary Sease, a spokesman for CSX Corp., the train's owner. The company has been working with authorities to allow residents to visit their homes each day to retrieve items and check on pets, Sease said.

A dozen tanker cars derailed and sparked a massive blaze Jan. 16, spilling various chemicals. Thick black smoke billowed over Bullitt County. No one was seriously hurt, but nearby homes and a school were evacuated and part of a busy highway was closed for hours.

Since derailment, evacuees have stayed in hotels and with relatives while CSX reimbursed them for hotel bills, food and other expenses. The railroad has issued 6,500 checks for $100 each to households inconvenienced by the derailment.

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