WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A Union Pacific train derailed on Tuesday afternoon in Dupo, Illinois, causing a massive fire in the area.
- A Union Pacific representative explained that as the train derailed, a tank car caught fire and caused about 14 other train cars to crash into each other.
- The incident prompted school and neighborhood evacuations.
A Union Pacific train derailed on Tuesday afternoon in Dupo, Illinois, causing a massive fire in the area.
Union Pacific representative Kristen M. South informed PEOPLE that the train derailed at around 12:45 p.m. A tank car caught fire and caused about 14 other train cars to crash into each other.
South explained, “At the time of the derailment, a train was being built for departure. As a result of the derailment, a tank car caught fire. Initial information indicates the tank car contained a flammable liquid called methyl isobutyl ketone, which is typically used as a solvent.”
The exact cause of the derailment is currently under investigation.
KMOV acquired videos from the scene, which showed thick clouds of dark smoke as flames shot up from the train tracks. The smoke could be seen from miles away.
According to an NBC News report, the electricity in the East Carondelet community was cut off due to high tension lines above the fire. The incident also prompted school and neighborhood evacuations.
Witnesses told KMOV that they heard sounds of rail cars breaking and metal “crunching” before the fire started.
Patrick Wilson, who works nearby, told KMOV, “I was just standing out here working and seen a giant fireball out of the corner of my eye and I looked over and saw smoke billowing and then it started spreading down the tracks about five minutes after that.”
The fire was extinguished at around 3:15 p.m. local time. An air quality test was conducted within an hour, after which the evacuations were lifted.
South declared, “Out of an abundance of caution, CTEH, our environmental contractor, will continue to monitor air quality downwind and southwind at least 5 miles from the yard until further notice.”
The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency in Illinois announced on Facebook that officials will monitor the scene “for an extended period resolving this incident.”
There were no deaths or injuries reported.