Evacuations ordered in Ohio after 50-car train derailment causes huge fire

by mcardinal

Trey Paul, FISM News

Cleanup is underway as the smoke continues to billow near the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania after a train derailed Friday night, causing a massive fire in the area.

People nearby were able to capture the billows of orange smoke in the area of East Palestine, which is about 15 miles south of Youngstown, and upload the video to social media. A crew from Rawsalerts, a group of Washington D.C.-based independent journalists, captured this video at the scene.

The derailment is about 51 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and is within 20 miles of part of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle, prompting fire crews from three different states to respond.

According to a statement from Norfolk Southern, approximately 50 cars derailed as a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern said the train was carrying more than 100 cars and 20 were classified as carrying hazardous materials, defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger “including flammables, combustibles, or environmental risks.”

No immediate information about what caused the derailment has been made available.

Officials say no injuries were reported, but they did issue evacuation and shelter-in-place orders for people who live nearby. Norfolk Southern said it has personnel on the ground coordinating with first responders.

The Village of East Palestine is now under a State of Emergency as of 9:25 a.m. on Feb. 4. According to a news release, “all citizens are called upon and directed to comply with necessary emergency measures” and “cooperate with public officials and emergency services” while they handle the emergency.

At one point, firefighters had to pull away from the scene because of continuing explosions at the site. Unmanned devices were being used to pour water on the fire in the pre-dawn hours, but there are reports some fire trucks were unable to pump water due to iced equipment which is a result of freezing temperatures in the area.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be working to figure out what caused the derailment. This tweet was issued from the NTSB account: “The NTSB is launching a go-team to investigate the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern freight train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio. Member Michael Graham will serve as spokesperson on scene. Team is expected to arrive today.”

Saturday morning, US Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), asked for prayer for those impacted. He tweeted, “My team is monitoring this situation. Still a lot we don’t know, but for now please pray for everyone’s safety.”

In a separate statement issued on Saturday, village officials warned that residents might hear more explosions as the fire continues to burn. Firefighters are trying to figure out which cars are still on fire as they work to extinguish the blaze completely.

Several local meteorologists were able to capture the fire on weather radar because it generated so much smoke.

At least two evacuation stations are open and providing shelter to residents, along with assistance from the Red Cross.

Randy Padfield, director of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency, tweeted this Saturday morning: “We are monitoring the train derailment in Ohio and working closely with our partners across the state border. We stand ready to coordinate resources and are grateful to the first responders on the scene.”

Village officials notified residents that an evacuation order was still in place Saturday morning for people who live within a mile of the scene.

Hazmat crews were at the site of the derailment to figure out whether or not hazardous materials were involved. Officials say the air quality in the area is being monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency.