Union Pacific Freight Train Hauling Flammable Solvent Catches Fire in Dupo, Illinois Near St. Louis

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Emergency crews are responding to a train derailment and fire in Dupo, Illinois. A spokesperson for St. Clair County Emergency Management said they received a call just after 12:30 p.m. for a train derailment and fire in the 2400 block of Carondelet Avenue (WTSP 10 News).

Firefighters in Dupo, Illinois and surrounding communities responded just after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 10, 2019 to a Union Pacific train derailment with fire in the Dupo Yard (railroad yard) near Carondelet Avenue between Main Street and Adams Road. At least 18 cars derailed in the Union Pacific railroad yard.

“Around 12:45 p.m., a derailment occurred in Union Pacific’s Dupo Yard near Carondelet Avenue between Main and Adams Road. Both crossings are closed. The train was being built for departure at the time of the derailment, which caused a tank car to catch fire. Initial information from the scene indicates that the tank car contains a flammable liquid called methyl isobutyl ketone. It is typically used as a solvent.

Union Pacific is working with area first responders to put out the fire. Our yard and nearby intermodal ramp were safely evacuated. At this time, no injuries have been reported.”

— Union Pacific

The flammable solvent identified as methyl isobutyl ketone (MIK or MIBK) leaked from tanker cars and ignited when it was released, according to Union Pacific. Methyl isobutyl ketone is highly flammable with a flash point of 73°F. MIK Vapors are heavier than air. Heavy black smoke and flames were visible for miles. Aerial video from a news helicopter showed fire, black smoke and white smoke, and also showed evidence of solvent runoff that apparently burned the ground nearby.

Vapors from MIK are also capable of being carried in the wind for a considerable distance and igniting at a remote location.

Large spills require an initial downwind evacuation of at least 300 meters (1000 feet).

Large fires involving a tank, rail car tankers or tanker trucks require isolation and evacuation for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions.

According to CAMEO Chemicals (a software and instrumental system of the EPA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Response and Restoration), firefighters must fight this type of fire involving MIK from a maximum distance using unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles. Firefighter are instructed to cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after the fire is extinguished, but must be alert at all times to a rising sound from venting safety devices or from discoloration of tanks — indicating the imminent possibility of a large explosion. Firefighters are instructed to hit the smoke and fire with a fog spray, not a direct stream. Firefighters are required stay away from tanks engulfed in fire, and for large fires when unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles; firefighters are instructed to withdraw from the area and let the fire predominantly burn itself out.

Schools, homes and apartments in the area were evacuated to ensure stayed safe (KSDK 5 ON YOUR SIDE St. Louis Missouri affiliate).

Dupo, Illinois is about 8 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri, and about 2.25 miles east of the east bank of the Mississippi River.

The area was under a Heat Advisory at the time of the fire with temperatures in the upper 80s to 91°F during the afternoon Tuesday. Also the wind was variable about 7 MPH at the beginning of the incident, and was 6-8 MPH from the southwest and west throughout the afternoon.

Homes and schools were evacuated with about 1,500 people being temporarily displaced from their homes and businesses.



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