Tennessee Train Derails; 5,000 Evacuated Because of Toxic Gas As Storms Approach Area

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At least one train car carrying a flammable and toxic gas derailed early Thursday and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, prompting an evacuation within a 2-mile radius, authorities said.

NBC News reported that more than 5,000 residents of Maryville have been evacuated after the CSX train derailed in Blount County, south of Knoxville.

A shelter was set up at a local high school for those forced from their homes, the Associated Press reported. Some residents said they were unaware of the incident until authorities informed them that they had to evacuate.

“You could smell it in the air,” resident Brittany Parrott told the AP. “I had a headache, I was feeling nauseated and lightheaded, all the symptoms.”

Ten law enforcement officers were taken to the hospital after breathing in fumes from the blaze, Blount County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Marian O’Briant told the AP.

On its Facebook page, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said the evacuations could last from 24 to 48 hours.

A shelter for residents has been set up at a high school.

Storms with lightning and heavy rain were approaching the area, which could complicate the cleanup, said Jonathan Erdman, weather.com meteorologist.

NBC News reported that the train was carrying Acrylonitrile, which authorities described as a “highly flammable and toxic gas.”

The substance is used in the manufacture of acrylic fibers and if inhaled in high levels can cause membrane irritation, headaches, nausea and kidney irritation, according to the EPA.

The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Waycross, Georgia.

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Sasha Perkins

Administrative Assistant and Journalist at the Pluto Daily since 2012.