Fire Burning After Hazardous Rail Spill in Tennessee

A fire continued to burn Thursday afternoon at the site where a CSX train car carrying hazardous material derailed and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, and officials said firefighters have been trying to keep neighboring rail cars cool as they make efforts to move them away from the flames, reports The Boston Herald.

Firefighters are getting as close to the damaged 24,000-gallon tank car as they can, given the heat, CSX regional vice president for state government affairs Craig Camuso said at a 4:30 p.m. news conference Thursday in Maryville, Tennessee,

The derailment late Wednesday prompted the evacuation of thousands of people within a mile-and-a-half radius.

The damaged car was carrying liquid acrylonitrile, which officials said is a hazardous material used in multiple industrial processes including making plastics. It’s flammable and it’s dangerous if inhaled. The EPA says some effects of breathing acrylonitrile include headaches, dizziness, irritability and rapid heartbeat.

Josh West, spokesman for Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, said 52 people had come in for treatment there as of 5 p.m. and that 25 had been admitted. He said some of the others were discharged and some remained in the emergency room for observation. He said none of them had life-threatening injuries but rather conditions like respiratory issues, skin irritation and nausea.

Ten first responders received hospital treatment after breathing fumes.

Camuso said authorities don’t know how much acrylonitrile is spewing out and burning or how much remains in the tank.

“We can’t get close enough because of the fire to really determine how much is coming out,” he said.

The fire was reported shortly before midnight Wednesday.

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