Train Cars Carrying Hazardous Cargo Derail

Crews battle fire that prompted village evacuation in Ohio
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 4, 2023 12:50 PM CST
50-Car Train Derailment Causes Fire, Evacuation
In this photo provided by Melissa Smith, a train fire is seen from her farm in East Palestine, Ohio, on Friday.   (Melissa Smith via AP)

A train derailment and resulting large fire prompted an evacuation order and a declaration of a state of emergency in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line, covering the area in billows of smoke lit orange by the flames below. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine as a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, rail operator Norfolk Southern said in a statement Saturday. There was no immediate information about what caused the derailment, the AP reports. No injuries were reported. The fire created so much smoke that meteorologists in the region said it was visible on weather radar.

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, and there had been no dangerous readings to report, he said. Norfolk Southern said the train had more than 100 cars, 20 of which were classified as carrying hazardous materials—defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger "including flammables, combustibles, or environmental risks." The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that it was sending a team to investigate.

Unmanned stream devices are being used protectively while crews try to determine which cars were still actively burning, village officials said in a separate statement Saturday that warned residents that they might hear more explosions as the fire burns. A high school and community center were opened to shelter dozens of people. Conaway said firefighters from three states responded to the site, about 51 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, per the AP. Temperatures in the single digits complicated the response as trucks pumping water froze, he said.

(Read more derailment stories.)

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