A 50-car train derailment in Ohio has caused a massive fire and evacuations

A train derailment and resulting large fire prompted an evacuation order in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line Friday night, blanketing the area in waves of orange smoke lit by flames below.

About 50 cars derailed in eastern Palestine while a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, the Norfolk Southern Railroad said in a statement on Saturday. There was no immediate information on the cause of the deviation. There were no reports of injuries.

Local officials informed residents that an evacuation order was still in effect Saturday morning for people within a mile of the accident scene. A high school and community center opened to house dozens of people, while residents outside that range were urged to stay indoors.

Ohio train derailment
In this photo provided by Melissa Smith, a train fire is seen from her farm in East Palestine, Ohio, Friday, February 3, 2023. A train derailment and a major fire spark prompted an evacuation order in an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania state line Friday night, covering the area Streams of smoke lit up orange from the flames below. (Melissa Smith via AP)

Melissa Smith/AP

Among the dozens of residents who sought refuge at the high school was Ann McCanless, who said a neighbor texted her about the incident.

“I took a picture of the glow in the sky from my front porch,” McNelis told WFMJ-TV. “That’s when I knew how important this was.”

Mayor Trent Conway told reporters that firefighters from three states responded because of the derailment’s location about 51 miles (82 kilometers) northwest of Pittsburgh and 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the tip of Northwest Virginia.

Freezing temperatures in the single digits complicated the response as the trucks pumping the water froze, Conway said.

Hazmat crews also responded to the scene to determine if there were dangerous materials, he said.

Southern Norfolk said it has staff on site who coordinate with first responders.

The fire generated so much smoke that area meteorologists said it was visible on weather radar.


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