UPDATE: 5,000 evacuees not allowed to return home tonight; must find other shelter
UPDATE: Authorities said at least 5,000 people are under a mandatory evacuation Thursday morning following a CSX train fire in Blount County, and they should plan to at least find somewhere else to spend the night tonight.
CSX said there were no injuries reported from the train derailment.
Around midnight, Craig Camuso, Regional Vice President for CSX, said they received the report of one car that derailed and caught fire near Old Mt. Tabor Road, which is located off Highway 321, just west of the Foothills Mall.
The CSX train consisted of 57 cars, including 27 cars that were carrying hazardous material. Nine of those were carrying Acrylonitrile, which is a flammable and poisonous liquid, and that's the car that is now on fire. According to the EPA's web site, Acrylonitrile is primarily used in the manufacture of acrylic and modacrylic fibers. It's known to cause mucous membrane irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
The other cars were carrying propane and asphalt. The train was en route from Cincinnati to Waycross, Ga.
CSX said it is working with first responders following the train derailment, and praised the efforts of the local responders. They are in the process of setting up air and water monitoring for the area.
Any person affected by the evacuation can call CSX at 1-800-331-4031.
According to Blount Memorial Hospital spokesperson Josh West, they have treated 30 people for respiratory symptoms. Officials said earlier that number included 10 emergency responders who were complaining of burning eyes after the fire. 9 people have been admitted to the hospital, 21 are still being evaluated in the ER.
Dr. Hal Naramore is the Chief Medical Officer at Blount Memorial Hospital. He says if you are experiencing any symptoms, you should seek medical treatment. The most likely treatment for the symptoms is breathing clean oxygen.
Mandatory evacuations of a nearby apartment complex started around 12:30 a.m. and it includes a two mile radius.
Authorities also advise against drinking well water until further notice due to water contamination. CSX is providing water for those affected at Heritage Middle School.
The Red Cross set up a shelter at Heritage High School in Maryville for those who do not have a place to stay while the evacuations are in effect. Authorities said evacuees cannot bring pets to the Red Cross shelter at Heritage High School.
CSX said it will reimburse evacuees who are staying in hotels as a result of the train derailment.
Parameters of the evacuation zone:
- West Hunt Road to Middlesettlements Road to north
- West Lamar Alexander Parkway near Buddy's BBQ to the east
- Old Glory and Big Springs roads near Rubbermaid
- West Lamar Alexander Parkway at William Blount Drive to the west
Animals can be dropped off at the Blount County Animal Shelter at 233 Curie Avenue in Maryville. According to Don Stallions, the Director of General Services, people cannot stay at the animal shelter. The Blount County Animal Shelter will feed and take care of pets.
We are told by the Blount County Sheriff's Department that these evacuations may be in effect for 24 to 48 hours.
Mandatory evacuation is required for the following areas:
- Walmart in Alcoa--UPDATE--SCHEDULED TO RE-OPEN AROUND 2 P.M.
- Those along Middlesettlements Road are being evacuated to state Highway 129
- Denso Manufacturing
- Ashley Apartments
- Stone Tree Apartments
- Denso Manufacturing employees in Maryville will not report to work Thursday morning due to train derailment evacuations.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Chattanooga Fire Department, hospitals and EMS departments are sending “CyanoKits” to first responders and medical personnel in Blount County, where a train derailment and fire forced the evacuation of nearly 5,000 early Thursday morning.
These kits are antidotes for cyanide poisoning will be flown up there via Life Force, unless weather forces their transport via the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Purchased with grants from the Metropolitan Medical Response System, the kits may prove essential after several first responders are being treating for exposure to the chemical on the train.
Read more at WBIR's website.