June 9, 1997 in Nation/World

Residents Feel Ill After Train Fire Report Headaches, Dizziness After Chemical Fumes Dissipate

Associated Press
 

People who ran from a fiery crash of a train carrying hazardous chemicals have returned home and some have complained of headaches, dizziness and chest pains.

Hundreds of people hid in their homes and others ran for safety when the train rear-ended a coal train and burst into flames late Saturday. An engineer on the train carrying chemicals was killed and two workers received minor injuries.

Thirteen cars and two engines derailed because of either human error or a broken signal, investigators said.

The collision created a huge fireball and cloud of chemical smoke, causing some in Vintroux Hollow to flee.

“We were just sitting there watching TV and there was a big boom, like thunder,” said 18-year-old Lisa Cash.

Hundreds were asked to leave their homes because the tank that exploded contained roughly 20,000 gallons of acetaldehyde, which is used in the manufacture of acetic acid and perfumes. The chemical can substantially weaken the central nervous system when inhaled.

Residents were allowed to return home - or emerge from their houses - by Sunday afternoon.

People who fled were told to discard their clothes because they might have been contaminated. Some complained of headaches and dizziness more than 12 hours later.

Hospitals treated 16 people, all of whom had been released.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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