By Michael Williams
Emergency responders spent the early morning hours of Thursday evacuating a two mile radius of a train derailment in Blount County. The call came into the Blount County Fire Department at 11:50 p.m. Wednesday night concerning a car on a CSX train carrying a flammable and toxic substance that had derailed and caught fire.
Emergency responders began working to contain the blaze while Maryville Police and officers with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office began evacuating private homes and businesses. More than 5,000 people were sent to area emergency shelters at the Blount County High School. The evacuation is expected to last 24-48 hours.
According to reports, Blount County Fire Department Lt. Johnny Leatherwood said the fire was still burning at 7:15 a.m. Thursday. Denso Manufacturing closed down Thursday morning because of its proximity to the derailment. 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. Breathing the chemical can cause headaches, dizziness, irritability and rapid heartbeat.
No deaths have been reported. However, six police officers had to be decontaminated. According to reports, the train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia.
The Tennessee Star Journal will keep our readers apprised of any developments as they are made available.