LIVINGSTON, Ky. (AP) – A chemical fire caused by a train derailment in Kentucky prompted evacuations, but the fire has been extinguished and people can return to their homes, railroad operator CSX said Thursday.
“The fire is completely extinguished,” CSX spokesman Brian Tucker said in an email Thursday afternoon. He said the agency and CSX officials reviewed air monitoring data and determined it was safe to return the evacuees.
The CSX train derailed around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday near Livingston, a remote town of about 200 people in Rockcastle County. Residents were urged to evacuate.
CSX said in a statement that two of the 16 derailed cars were loaded with molten sulfur, and a fire broke out after the cars entered.
The fire is believed to have released sulfur dioxide, a potentially harmful gas, but authorities have not released measurements from air monitoring equipment deployed Wednesday night.
The derailment caused some Livingston residents to wake up in a middle school shelter on Thanksgiving Day.
Cindy Bradley had just finished preparing a sumptuous meal on Wednesday when a worker knocked loudly, urging her to leave her small Kentucky home as soon as possible after a train derailed.
She eventually enrolled at Rockcastle County Middle School in Livingston, but didn’t know what would happen next.
“I’m just really scared. I don’t know how long this is going to last,” Bradley told WTVQ-TV Wednesday night, surrounded by dozens of cots.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory illnesses, depending on concentration and duration of exposure. The gas is typically produced by burning fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial processes, according to the EPA.
Evelyn Gray realized there was a problem when someone opened the back door, telling her to evacuate.
“As soon as he opened the back door and came in, the chemicals hit me and I had a severe asthma attack,” Gray told the TV station.
Neil Donahue, a chemistry professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said the dangers from sulfur dioxide are immediate and rapid and tend to irritate the lungs and skin.
“It’s just unpleasant, corrosive, acidic and painful. It’s unpleasant to be in there,” Donahue said.
Donahue said the chemical threat is expected to subside quickly once the fire is extinguished.
CSX is currently working to clean up additional spilled chemicals and rehabilitate the area.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in the county and assured crews of any needed state assistance. He asked the public to keep in mind first responders and those forced to spend Thanksgiving away from home.
“Please keep them in your thoughts and pray for a solution that will allow them to return home. Thank you to all the first responders who spent this day protecting the public,” the governor said in a statement Thursday. Stated.
CSX has promised to pay for anyone who is required to evacuate, including Thanksgiving dinner.
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https://fox40.com/news/national/ap-us-news/ap-csx-promises-thanksgiving-meals-for-evacuees-after-train-derails-spilling-chemicals-in-kentucky-town/ Residents of Kentucky town can return home after crews extinguish derailment fire