Evacuees face Thanksgiving away from home after train derails spilling chemicals in Kentucky town

Emergency crews continue to urge residents of a small Kentucky town to stay out of their homes after a train derailed, catching fire and spilling chemicals

Via AP news wire
Thursday 23 November 2023 16:43 GMT

Cindy Bradley had just finished cooking for Thanksgiving when an official knocking loudly urged her to leave her small Kentucky home as soon as possible because a train had derailed, catching fire and spilling chemicals.

She ended up at Rockcastle County Middle School in Livingston — unsure what was next as at least two train cars containing potentially harmful chemicals continued to burn Thursday.

“It’s just really scary. We don’t know how long this is,” Bradley told WTVQ-TV on Wednesday night, surrounded by dozens of cots. “This could be tonight, this could be three weeks, Who knows.”

The CSX train derailed around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday near Livingston, a remote town with about 200 people in Rockcastle County.

Two of the 16 cars that derailed carried molten sulfur, which caught fire after the cars were breached, CSX said in a statement.

Crews were still working to extinguish the fire Thursday morning, the company said.

It’s believed that the fire is releasing sulfur dioxide, but officials have not released results of measurements taken from air monitoring equipment that was being deployed Wednesday night.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems, depending on the concentration and length of exposure. The gas is commonly produced by burning fossil fuels at power plants and other industrial processes, the EPA says.

Evelyn Gray noticed a problem when her back door was opened by someone telling her to evacuate.

“As soon as he opened the back door to come in the chemical hit me, and I had a real bad asthma attack,” Gray told the TV station.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in the county, assuring crews all the help from the state they need. He asked the public to keep in mind the emergency workers and people forced to spend Thanksgiving away from home.

“Please think about them and pray for a resolution that gets them back in their homes. Thank you to all the first responders spending this day protecting our people,” the governor said in a statement Thursday.

CSX promised to pay the costs of anyone asked to evacuate, including a Thanksgiving dinner.

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