Ohio: Train derailment sparks massive fire; rescue ops continue

Residents in an Ohio village have been evacuated after a train derailment caused a huge fire, covering the area in smoke lit orange by the flames below.

Flames shoot into the night sky behind a farm in Ohio after a train derailment.

Flames shoot into the night sky behind a farm in East Palestine, Ohio, after a train derailment. (AP: Melissa Smith)

About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine as a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, rail operator Norfolk Southern said in a statement on Saturday local time.

There was no immediate information about what caused the derailment. No injuries have been reported.

Firefighters have been pulled from the immediate area and unmanned stream devices are being used protectively while crews try to determine which cars are still actively burning.

Village officials said they hoped to use drones to assess the scene in daylight, and warned that residents could hear more explosions as the fire continued burning.

An evacuation order remained in place people within a mile of the scene.

A high school and community centre were opened to shelter dozens of people, while residents beyond that radius were urged to stay inside.

Among residents sheltering at the high school was Ann McAnlis, who said a neighbour had texted her about the crash.

“She took a picture of the glow in the sky from the front porch,” Ms McAnlis told WFMJ-TV.

“That’s when I knew how substantial this was.”

Mayor Trent Conaway told reporters firefighters from three states had responded to the derailment, which happened about 82 kilometres north-west of Pittsburgh.

Fire and smoke is seen behind a silo after a train derailement.

It is not yet known what caused the freight train cars to leave the tracks.(AP: Melissa Smith)

Freezing temperatures had complicated the response as trucks pumping water froze, Mayor Conaway said.

Hazmat crews also responded to the scene to determine whether hazardous materials were involved, and air quality in the area is being monitored.

Norfolk Southern said it had personnel on-site coordinating with first responders.

The fire created so much smoke that meteorologists from the region said it was visible on weather radar.


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