Evacuations ordered after fire at derailment site; workers hurt - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Evacuations ordered after fire at derailment site; workers hurt

Air 3 over the derailment scene where crews were hosing down flames after an accident on Wednesday. Air 3 over the derailment scene where crews were hosing down flames after an accident on Wednesday.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – People who live and work within 1.2 miles of Monday's train derailment site in southwest Jefferson County and the entire Hardin County community of West Point were ordered to evacuate Wednesday afternoon after a fire injured five contractors working on a derailed train car containing a highly flammable chemical.

Officials with Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency said one of the contractors was in very critical condition, a second contractor was in critical condition and a third contractor was in serious condition. Two others refused treatment at the scene.  

An EMA official said the contractors were using a blowtorch to try to separate a derailed car containing butadiene from another car when chemical vapors accidentally ignited. "The workers that are here are highly trained, and this is one of those accidents that occurs, unfortunately," he said.

The EMA official said crews were confident the fire would remain contained to one rail car. They were hopeful the fire would be out by 6 p.m. Crews said the safest way to approach the fire was to let it burn itself out.

Emergency crews said 1,800 gallons of water were flowing on the insulated, double-walled tanker car to keep the situation in check. As a precaution, adjacent cares were also being cooled.

In addition to the evacuations that were ordered, a "shelter in place" warning was issued for people within five-miles of the derailment.  

Shelter in place means to close all windows and doors, bring pets inside and turn off HVAC systems. A Code Red alert was sent to residents in the shelter in place zone.

The Red Cross set up the following two shelters for evacuees:

Muldraugh Elementary School
202 Wendell Street
Muldraugh, KY

Stuart Middle School
4601 Valley Station Road
Louisville, KY

Radcliff Police Officer Bryce Shumate said once the Muldraugh Elementary shelter is full, Colvin Community Center at 222 Freedoms Way in Radcliff will open as a shelter.

Parents in the area were asked to keep their trick-or-treaters indoors until the shelter in place warning is lifted.

Trick-or-treating in West Point was rescheduled for Saturday November 3, from 5 until 8 p.m.

As a precaution, the U.S. Coast Guard closed Ohio River traffic from one-mile north to one-mile south of the derailment site.

All JCPS elementary, middle and high school students who live within a five-mile radius of the derailment were transported to Valley High School where a parent or guardian could sign them out.

Watson Lane Elementary School students who live outside the warning area were being transported from Valley High School, where they were sent upon dismissing early at 1:30 p.m., to their homes by bus at the regular time.

Frost Middle School canceled all after school programs on Wednesday.

The Paducah & Louisville Railway train derailed around 6:30 a.m. Monday after crossing the Salt River from the West Point area of Hardin County. Dixie Highway has been closed to traffic from KY 44 in Louisville to the Salt River Bridge since the train derailed.

P&L Railway issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon that reads, in part, "Our thoughts are prayers are with the injured workers and their families. Paducah & Louisville is prepared to support them in any way possible.

"We also are prepared to support those who live in the area and have been directly impacted by helping to secure lodging and attending to other immediate needs.

"Paducah & Louisville continues to work with first responders and to cooperate fully with an investigation into both Monday's derailment and (Wednesday's) flash fire. We deeply appreciate the work of all agencies."

We will continue to follow developments in this story on air, online at wave3.com and on mobile with the free WAVE 3 mobile app.

Copyright 2012 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

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