Tennessee Train Derailment Prompts Evacuation Of 5,000 People

A Tennessee train derailment has prompted the evacuation of 5,000 people.

The call about the train derailment came in on Wednesday night at 11:50 p.m. EDT in Maryville, Blount County Fire Department Lt. Johnny Leatherwood said. Apparently, a car on the CSX train, traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia, was carrying a flammable and toxic substance that caught fire after the train derailed, prompting the evacuation of the residents living within a two-mile radius of the train car.

Blount County firefighter Kermit Easterling said the fire was still burning at 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

On Thursday, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said the evacuation of nearly 5,000 people could last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. According to SFGATE, the Red Cross set up a shelter at the Heritage High School in Maryville for those residents who have no where else to go.

“CSX personnel are on hand at an outreach center that has been established. Displaced residents are being offered assistance, including lodging,” CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay told NBC News.

In a statement, 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, CSX said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency explains what can happen if someone was to breath in the acrylonitrile, which is used in the manufacturing of acrylic and modacrylic fibers, on their website.

    Acute (short-term) exposure of workers to acrylonitrile has been observed to cause mucous membrane irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Pics coming in of train derailment carrying toxic chemicals in Maryville Tn. Evacuations still underway. pic.twitter.com/oXShFqs0gC

— *Lynne Russell News* (@lynnerussnews1) July 2, 2015

So far, no deaths have been reported. However, 22 first responders had to be treated for decontamination.

[Photo by matthew siddons / Shutterstock.com]