Fiery train derailment in N.E. Ohio town forces evacuations

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes in northeastern Ohio following a train derailment late Friday which ignited a massive fire, local officials say,

No one was killed or injured in the mishap in East Palestine, Ohio, Mayor Trent Conaway told reporters in a pre-dawn update Saturday.


A mandatory evacuation order was imposed around the scene of the derailment in the town of 4,700 people located about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

Video from the scene showed intense flames shooting from the derailed cars and thick plumes of smoke rising thousands of feet in the air over the accident scene, where frigid temperatures near zero degrees Fahrenheit were hindering firefighting efforts.

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Some 43 residents who live near the scene have been evacuated to a Red Cross shelter established in a city school, said Columbiana County, Ohio, Emergency Management Agency Director Peggy Clark.

East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said the derailment happened around 9 p.m. Friday on a Norfolk Southern freight train traveling from Madison, Ill., to Conway, Pa. The train, he said, was carrying "multiple different quantities of products" and that several cars were still burning overnight.


Although officials know which "products" the train was carrying, Drabick declined to name the substances until it could be determined which cars were carrying what kind of cargo.

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The chief said no contamination of air or water with hazardous chemicals had been detected in the area. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Coordinator Josh Peters said the situation is being monitored.

Drabick said continuing explosions at the scene had prompted officials to evacuate firefighters for their own safety and that a further assessment would be made after daybreak.

"We are aware of the derailment in East Palestine, and are coordinating closely with local first responders while mobilizing our own teams," the Norfolk Southern railroad said in a statement distributed to media outlets. "We will share more details as they become available."

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