Thousands of Tennessee residents were roused from sleep overnight on the outskirts of Knoxville when a freight train car derailed and burst into flames, sending toxic fumes into the air, NBC News reports. Seven cops were treated for inhaling those fumes, per a spokeswoman for the Blount County Sheriff's Department, while a spokesman for Blount Memorial Hospital says 12 emergency responders were decontaminated at the hospital for exposure to dangerous chemicals, notes CNN.
The nearly 60-car CSX train on its way from Cincinnati to Waycross, Ga., was carrying acrylonitrile, a chemical compound used in the manufacture of acrylic fibers and plastics and said to cause everything from headaches, nausea, and low-grade anemia to kidney irritation and jaundice when inhaled at high levels, per the EPA. The sheriff's office announced early today on its Facebook page that the evacuation area covers a one-mile radius around the derailment site and that evacuation orders could remain in effect for the next two days. In the interim, two shelters are being set up for displaced residents, per a senior disaster program manager for the Tennessee region's Red Cross, notes NBC. (Something similar happened in North Dakota in May—but that train wasn't carrying acrylonitrile.)