Arcadia, OH – A Norfolk Southern train hauling tanker cars loaded with ethanol derailed in Arcadia, OH on Sunday, February 6, 2011 and triggered a massive explosion and fireball.
Arcadia is a village located in Hancock County, Ohio in the northeastern part of the state about 47 miles south of Toledo.
The derailment occurred about 1 1/2 miles west of Arcadia early Sunday morning about 2:15 a.m. Residents were awakened by the sound of the huge explosion and knew something had happened.
Rail cars carrying ethanol (grain alcohol) would bleve (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion) and then create a huge explosion and fireball when the ethanol ignited.
Several fire departments were called to the scene. There were over 100 firefighters in all that responded to the scene. Nearly 30 families had to evacuate their homes.
The fire continued to burn almost 24 hours after it started, but by that time, most of the families were allowed to return to their homes. Only about 4 or 5 families had to stay out at that time.
When Norfolk Southern crews began handling the mishap, they felt that it was best to allow the fire to burn out by itself. All fire departments remained on standby until further help would be needed.
Firefighters say the derailment started when two of the tanker cars jumped the tracks, then pulled the rest of the train off behind it.
There were 28 cars of the 64-car train that derailed, each of them was carrying about 13,000 gallons of ethanol. The train was heading from Chicago to the Carolinas.
Fortunately, there were no injuries reported and no railroad workers were injured as a result of the mishap.
The captain of one fire department pointed out that had the accident occurred only 1 to 2 minutes later – depending on how fast the train was going – then the incident could have happened right in the middle of the village and could have been a whole lot worse, so they were lucky in that respect.
The exact cause of the accident remains to be unknown at this time, but the mishap is currently under investigation.
It was reported that 50 to 80 trains per day go through the area on a regular basis. Crews at the Washington Township Fire Department say that they haven’t seen a derailment followed by a massive explosion like this in more than 50 years.
Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP