Thousands evacuated after train carrying toxic, flammable gas catches fire in Tenn.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As many as 5,000 Blount County neighbors evacuated their homes in Tennessee late Wednesday night after a freight train carrying flammable and poisonous material caught on fire.

According to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, a CSX single-tank car carrying acrylonitrile, a liquid petroleum, derailed and caught on fire at Mount Tabor Road at Old Mount Tabor Road around midnight.

Acrylonitrile, also used in plastic, is an flammable and poisonous gas.

The train was en route from Cinncinnati, Ohio to Waycross, Ga.

According to CSX, the train consisted of two locomotives and 57 cars, including 45 loaded cars and 12 empty cars. Cars of acrylonitrile were located on either side of the burning rail car. No crude oil is among the rail cars. A total of 27 cars in the train are carrying hazardous materials.

Homes in within a two to three mile radius of the area were evacuated. Hundreds of people relocated to the Foothills Mall until they are able to go home. The Red Cross also set up shelter at Heritage High School for residents.

This is a two-mile radius map from the train derailment. (Source: Google Map)
This is a two-mile radius map from the train derailment. (Source: Google Map)

Officials told WATE 6 On Your Side a shelter will be open at 233 Curry Avenue for displaced pets.

Evacuations could last between 24 and 48 hours, according to deputies.

Ten first responders are being treated at Blount Memorial Hospital for decontamination, according to hospital officials.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police, TEMA and emergency management were on scene.

CSX representative Lee Miller apologized to displaced residents in a meeting at Heritage High School. He said environment and hazmat crews are “working diligently” to get the situation taken care of. He estimates residents will be able to come home Friday morning.

Personal hygiene items, baby wipes and food will be provided by CSX, according to Miller.

CSX is also offering reimbursement for families who are in hotels. Lee said for residents to keep receipts and identification to verify address to make sure it’s within evacuation radius.

Miller did not answer questions about timeline, chemical danger or contamination radius.

The Federal Railroad Administration acting administrator Sarah Feinberg released this statement on the CSX train derailment:

“Overnight, a tank car on a CSX train derailed near Maryville, Tennessee. First responders are on the scene, and residents within a two-mile radius were evacuated. FRA investigators and hazmat inspectors are on site. Once it is safe, FRA will begin a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the derailment.”

If residents have questions, they can call 877-TELL-CSX.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office warns residents south of Robert C. Jackson Drive to Friendsville refrain from drinking well water.

Residents in the area are asked to call 865-273-3406 if they have any questions.

All East Tennessee YMCA’s are open for evacuated residents to take a shower.

If you are interested in volunteering, call the Red Cross Knoxville office at 865-584-2999.

The crews, hospitals and EMS departments in Chattanooga are sending “Cyano Kits” to first responders and medical personnel. The kits are antidotes for cyanide poisoning and will be flown via LifeForce, if weather permits, or taken by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates the roads to reopen at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday.

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