Train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio causes fire, evacuations

The fire produced so much smoke that local meteorologists said it was visible on weather radar.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — Freight train cars continued to burn Saturday, raising heavy smoke, after a derailment that led to an evacuation order and a state of emergency being declared in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line.

About 50 cars derailed around 9 p.m. EST in eastern Palestine on Friday as a train was carrying a variety of products from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania, rail operator Norfolk Southern said Saturday. There was initially no information about the cause of the derailment. No injuries or damage to buildings were reported.

Mayor Trent Conaway of the village of East Palestine declared a state of emergency, citing a “train derailment with hazardous materials.” Air quality was being monitored in a one-mile zone that had to be evacuated and there were no dangerous readings to report, he said.

Norfolk Southern said the train has more than 100 cars, 20 of which are classified as hazardous materials – defined as cargo that may pose any type of hazard “including flammable, combustible or environmental hazards”.

Fire Chief Keith Drabick said officials were most concerned about a shipment of the chemical vinyl chloride, but the rail car’s safety features still worked. “The wagon that transported this is doing its job,” he said.

Vinyl chloride, which is used to make the hard plastic resin polyvinyl chloride used in a variety of plastic products, is linked to an increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute.

Emergency crews would keep their distance until rail officials told them it was safe to approach, Drabick said.

“If they say it’s time to go in and put out the fire, my guys will go in and put out the fire,” he said. He said other chemicals were also in the cars and officials were getting a list from Norfolk’s southern and federal agencies.

Firefighters have been withdrawn from the immediate area and unmanned streams have been used to protect some areas, including businesses that may also contain materials of concern, officials said. Freezing temperatures in the single digits complicated the response as trucks pumping water froze, Conaway said.

Officials said 68 agencies from three states and a number of counties responded to the derailment, which took place about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and within 20 miles of the tip of West Virginia’s northern Panhandle.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday it was setting up “a Go team to investigate” the derailment, and board member Michael Graham would “serve as a spokesperson on the ground.”

Conaway said the aerial surveillance showed “an involvement of cars” with fires still burning and heavy smoke continuing to billow from the scene as officers tried to determine what was inside each car from the tags outside. The evacuation order and shelter-in-place warnings would remain in effect until further notice, officials said.

Village officials warned residents that they could hear explosions due to the fire. They said drinking water is safe despite discoloration due to the amount being pumped to fight the blaze. Some runoff had been detected in streams, but rail officials were working to stem it and prevent it from flowing downstream, officials said.

Officials repeatedly urged people not to come to the scene, saying they were endangering not only themselves but also emergency responders.

The evacuation area included 1,500 to 2,000 of the city’s 4,800 to 4,900 residents, but it wasn’t known how many were actually affected, Conaway said. A high school and community center opened, and among the few dozen residents taking shelter at the high school was Ann McAnlis, who said a neighbor texted her about the crash.

“She took a picture of the glow in the sky from the porch,” McAnlis told WFMJ-TV. “I knew then how extensive it was.”

Norfolk Southern opened a support center in the village to receive information from affected residents.

Elizabeth Parker Sherry said her 19-year-old son was on his way to Walmart to pick up a new TV in time for the Super Bowl when he called her outside to watch the flames and black smoke drift towards her house ascended. She said she sent a message to her mother to leave her house next to the tracks, but all three and her daughter were then forced to leave their own home as crews went door-to-door to tell people they were dead should leave the evacuation zone. Train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio causes fire, evacuations

Laura Coffey

World Time Todays is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button