A car on a CSX train carrying a flammable and toxic substance derailed late Wednesday night and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, prompting the evacuation of thousands within a 2-mile radius.
Blount County Fire Department Lt. Johnny Leatherwood said a call about the train derailment came in Wednesday night at 11:50 p.m. EDT in Maryville, TN.
The fire was still burning at 7:15 a.m. this morning, Blount County firefighter Kermit Easterling said.
About 5,000 people in the area evacuated along with several businesses, Leatherwood said. Also, a manufacturing plant, Denso Manufacturing, closed down Thursday morning because of its proximity to the derailment, Easterling said.
CSX said the train car that derailed was carrying acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in a variety of industrial processes including making plastics. The substance is flammable and is dangerous if inhaled.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, some effects of breathing acrylonitrile include headaches, dizziness, irritability and rapid heartbeat.
Six or seven police officers underwent decontamination procedures, but there were no deaths in the incident, Leatherwood said.
The train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia, CSX said.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said today the evacuations could last from 24 to 48 hours.
Officials set up a shelter for residents at a local high school.