CSX Train Derailment Near Painesville, Ohio Causes Explosions and EvacuationsOct 10, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
A 112-car freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed near Painesville in Northeast Ohio this afternoon. The CSX train that derailed was traveling from Cleveland to Buffalo, NY when it hit a gas line, resulting in a massive explosion and fire. A half mile area around the site of the train derailment is being evacuated, including one elementary school. So far, no injuries have been reported.
Early reports indicate that the CSX train that derailed was carrying grain, glycerin, alcohol and butane among its cargo. At least three cars are burning, and a CSX spokesperson said the railroad is trying to determine what was in those cars. Butane is a highly volatile substance, and breathing butane fumes can cause drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, and cardiac arrhythmia. Several fire companies, HAZMAT teams and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency were on the scene. But because of the toxic nature of some of the chemicals carried by the CSX train, crews were waiting until the fire subsided a bit before approaching the scene.
The train derailment occurred about 300 feet away from the Route 44 and Route 2 interchange near Painesville. Witnesses to the accident reported hearing a large blast and seeing a bright white flash at the time of derailment. Flames were said to be shooting at least 30 feet into the air, and plumes of thick black smoke could be seen for miles.
Painesville officials began evacuating residents from the Heisley Park neighborhood, and a nearby business park. Police SWAT teams were going door to door, ordering people to leave, and buses were made available for those who do not have transportation. One local television station reported that a “couple of dozen” evacuees had been taken to the Lake County YMCA. The evacuation also included 340 students from Lathrop Elementary School. Parents were informed that the students could be picked up at Chestnut Elementary.
Several major roads in the area were also close, including Route 44 Northbound, State Route 84, Route 2 and Route 535. Police have asked motorists to avoid the area of the CSX train derailment if at all possible. Railroad lines in the area of the CSX train derailment are still open, and witnesses are reporting that railroad traffic is being allowed to travel through the smoke and flames.