Tennessee train fire: Evacuated residents to return Friday

Thousands evacuated over fumes from train car derailment
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Story highlights

  • Air and water tests have so far revealed no problems, city manager says
  • Residents will be asked to refrain from using well water until more tests are done
  • Rail car was carrying a chemical compound used to manufacture plastics

(CNN)The thousands of people who were evacuated from their homes in eastern Tennessee after a freight train fire released toxic fumes this week probably will be allowed to return Friday, Maryville City Manager Greg McClain told reporters.

Up to 5,000 people were evacuated from part of the Maryville area, just south of Knoxville, on Thursday after a derailed CSX train car burst into flames that morning.
The car, part of a nearly 60-car train, was carrying acrylonitrile, a chemical compound used to manufacture plastics, CSX has said.
    Air and water tests have so far revealed no problems, though officials are asking that residents temporarily refrain from using well water even after they return.
    "My understanding is, if you're on city water, you're fine. ... If you have a well, we would prefer you do not bathe in that (or) drink that," McClain said. "So far we've not had any indication that's been impacted yet, but testing will continue."
    Officials expect to announce at noon Friday a plan to let residents return in phases, and all evacuation orders probably will be lifted by that night, McClain said.
    Twenty-five people, including first responders, were admitted Thursday to Blount Memorial Hospital for treatment because of the fire and fumes, said hospital spokesman Josh West, who did not reveal their ailments.
    Inhalation of high levels of acrylonitrile fumes can cause headaches, nausea, apprehension, low-grade anemia and mild jaundice, an Environmental Protection Agency profile of the compound says.
    The train was headed from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia, when the one car veered off the rails in Blount County. The cause of the derailment hasn't been determined.