One Person Dead, Hundreds of Homes Evacuated after a Tanker Explosion - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

One Person Dead, Hundreds of Homes Evacuated after a Tanker Explosion

Hundreds of homes were evacuated in Texarkana, AR today after seven empty train cars and a tanker containing propylene derailed in a switchyard. It exploded in a bill of fire and left a plume of smoke over the south end of the city.

Police spokeswoman Chris Rankin says one person was killed when a nearby home was destroyed. At least seven people went to hospital emergency rooms with complaints of respiratory problems. At least two-homes and one vehicle were destroyed within the quarter-mile area that surrounds the scene.

The accident happened around 5:00am Saturday. The propylene tank was still burning at noon but the fire was under control and the smoke had thinned out. Initially police believed the chemical involved was vinyl acetate which releases poisonous fumes. Officers went door to door to urge the thousands of homeowners near the scene to move to the north side of town. At one point the smoke was so thick it blocked out daylight.

Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said no one among the railroad crews was hurt. He said a UP train headed from Chicago hit the back of another freight train in the rail yard and caused the derailment. Davis said his initial report that "a small LPG tank" was involved war incorrect. UP is investigating the cause of the accident.

The train was bound for Laredo, TX when it hit the back of another Union Pacific train which was headed from Pine Bluff to Harlingen, TX. even people have been treated for respiratory problems or possible exposure to fumes. Police say several structures at the site of the accident were destroyed by fire.

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