NS Derailment Leads to Fire, Evacuations in East Palestine

Some residents of East Palestine, Ohio, were evacuated Friday night after a Norfolk Southern train derailed and caused a massive fire.

News reports indicated that the 32N derailed around 9 p.m. near the James Street crossing in the community of 4,700 on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border in Columbiana County.

A report on Facebook said the NS train crew was uninjured. The report said the crew uncoupled the locomotives from the train’s consist and moved them to safety.

Youngstown TV station WFMJ reported that the smoke was so thick that it showed up on the station’s weather radar.

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said anyone within a mile of the James Street crossing needed to evacuate immediately. Others were directed to stay at home and stay off the roads while the fire is cleared.

The evacuation zone was reported to be the area East of Market St from Highland Avenue to Jimtown Road.

One report indicated that 30 fire departments from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia sent personnel and equipment to the scene to battle the blaze.

The train originated in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis and was en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

East Palestine is located about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh on the NS Fort Wayne Line.

NS was reported to be rerouting some trains via its Youngstown Line and the Cleveland Line via Bayard.

In a statement, NS said it was aware of the derailment and was “coordinating closely with local first responders while mobilizing our own teams. We will share more details as they become available.”

Amtrak said on Twitter that the eastbound Capitol Limited that departed Chicago on Friday terminated in Toledo. Passengers bound for Sandusky, Elyria and Cleveland were able to continue their journey aboard the eastbound Lake Shore Limited. The equipment turned at Toledo and returned to Chicago.

Likewise, Train 29 that departed Washington on Friday afternoon terminated at Pittsburgh and then returned passengers to Washington.

East Palestine officials opened two evacuation stations to accommodate displaced residents and the Red Cross was providing assistance. Some of the evacuees were taken by school bus to the gymnasium of a local school.

Another evacuation center was set up at the New Waterford Community Center.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was monitoring air quality near the derailment site.

An online report said some derailed freight cars landed on the property of the Leake Oil Company and struck storage tanks. Another report said the train severed a gas line.

The report said 50-70 cars were reported to be on fire with some cars carrying vinyl chlorine, a hazardous substance.

The crew of a westbound NS train the vicinity was able to stop its train and backup to safety after being informed of the derailment via radio.

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