Officials Warn Of 'Catastrophic' Explosion After 50-Car Train Derailment


Photo: Getty Images

A massive fire continues to burn for the third-straight day after a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed near the Ohio-Pennslyvania border.

While officials ordered everybody within a one-mile radius of the derailment to evacuate, about 500 people have refused to do so. On Sunday (February 5) night, the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office reiterated their calls for people to leave and suggested that those who stay could be arrested on charges of misconduct in an emergency, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor if there are only adults in the household. If there are children in the home, the charges are considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

"There is a high probability of a toxic gas release and or explosion. Again, we will be enforcing the evacuation zone. Please, for your own safety, remove your families from danger," the sheriff's office wrote on Facebook.

The urgency to get people away from the site of the 50-car derailment comes as officials noticed a drastic temperature shift in one of the tankers carrying vinyl chloride, a toxic gas that can cause people to die if they inhale it.

"We are at a risk now of a catastrophic failure of that (train) container. Measures are being taken to try and control that and prevent that from happening," Fire Chief Keith Drabick said. "This catastrophic failure, if it occurs, it will produce hydrogen chloride and phosgene gas into the atmosphere."

In addition to releasing the gas, the force of the explosion could rip apart the rail cars and send shrapnel flying up to one mile.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the derailment was caused by a mechanical failure of one of the railcar's axles.

Efforts to extinguish the blaze have been hampered by cold weather and the hazardous chemicals that are burning. Firefighters have been forced to stay back and cannot do much while the train cars are smoldering.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content