Fiery Derailment of Train Carrying Toxic Gas Sparks Evacuation of 5,000

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Fiery Derailment of Train Carrying Toxic Gas Sparks Evacuation of 5,000

Fire still burning after midnight derailment near Knoxville, Tenn.

A CSX train passing through Tennessee.  (Photo: Shannon/flickr/cc)

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The derailment of a train carrying a flammable, toxic gas near Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday has forced the evacuation of roughly 5,000 people.

Local news WSMV reported Thursday morning that a "frantic cleanup effort" was ongoing. The flames will be allowed to burn out.

According to a statement from the train company, CSX, the 57-car train departed from Cincinnati, Ohio, and was headed to Waycross, Ga., when a single car derailed around midnight in Maryville and caught fire.

Twenty-seven of the train cars were carrying acrylonitrile, which the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that authorities were requesting kits to treat cyanide poisoning, as cyanide is a byproduct of acrylonitrile burning.

Maryville resident Brittany Parrott, who received an early morning knock on her door to evacuate, told the Associated Press that when she went outside, "You could smell it in the air."

"I had a headache, I was feeling nauseated and lightheaded, all the symptoms," Parrott said.

The Blount County Sheriff's Office stated that the evacuation, which covers two-mile radius, could last from 24-48 hours.

The office told NBC News that ten officers were being hospitalized because of fume inhalation.

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