Ethanol cars derail, burn with fireball in Ohio

February 7, 2011

ARCADIA, Ohio — A Norfolk Southern train carrying 62 tank cars of denatured ethanol derailed here early Feb. 6, with many catching fire and creating what was described as a “huge fireball that could be seen for up to 15 miles.”

No injuries were reported to the crew or others in the derailment of 26 of the tank cars, but residents of 30 homes in the rural area, about 50 miles south of Toledo, were evacuated, according to news reports.

The Toledo Blade reported that all 26 of the derailed tank cars — each containing 33,000 gallons of denatured ethanol — caught fire. Public safety officials are permitting the fires to burn themselves out, which is expected by Tuesday. Denatured ethanol contains five percent gasoline.

The train was traveling east from Chicago to North Carolina. Norfolk Southern officials said the locomotives were not damaged.