(Brewster, Ohio – February 1, 2016)
The derailment of eight tank cars and subsequent release of materials described by firefighters as butane and natural gas Monday night about 6:00 PM resulted in the evacuation of at least 500 residents from homes in the general area of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad’s Brewster, OH rail yard as railroad officials attempted to downplay the situation.
According to WKYC-TV, “The crash sent a huge plume of fire and smoke into the air” in an incident Brewster Fire Chief Chris Colucy said “really could have been much worse.”
A news release from railroad management said that “Although classified as empty, the tank cars still contain a residual amount of natural gas liquids,” and that “as a result of the derailment, one of the cars was punctured and caught fire.” The news release also admitted that “nearby businesses and residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure.”
“The rail yard at First Street SE and South Wabash Avenue is a busy train hub and is not easy to access, according to firefighters,” said the WKYC story. “Hundreds of tankers that are stored there contain liquid fuel, so firefighters had to work quickly,” continued WKYC-TV.
The W&LE is privately-owned, primarily by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Parsons.
No injuries were reported, but evacuated residents, their children and even their pets huddled in quickly-established refugee centers at schools and other designated sites outside the three-quarter-mile danger circle as they awaited the next word from worried officials who represented at least 10 fire departments, Brewster Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Stark County Hazmat team and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We were just sitting at home and then police cars told us to evacuate and go to the high school and wait for instructions,” Brewster resident Marlon Kurt told Fox News Channel 8. “Within 5 minutes the whole street was lit up red and blue and they were asking us to be out in 20-30 minutes,” Misty Speiker, another resident of the evacuated neighborhoods, told the Cleveland Fox 8 news crew.
The American Red Cross was on hand at Fairless High School to minister to an estimated 300 to 500 evacuees during the crisis.
Brewster is about 60 miles south of Cleveland, OH.