At about 2 a.m. Wednesday, approximately 11 cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed southeast of the Ohio State University campus. This track location is north of the downtown area in an industrial section just blocks from residences.
Emergency responders imposed a mile wide evacuation zone, as flames shot skyward. Authorities stated that three of the burning rail cars contained ethanol. In the daylight, authorities decided to let the fire burn itself out. There is no immediate cause known for the derailment. Two people were injured as they ran toward the accident scene before the flammable vapor ignited in an explosion. They were able to get themselves to the hospital.
The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at the state fairgrounds and was assisting about 50 individuals.
Norfolk Southern said two locomotives and three of the 98 freight cars were removed from the scene without incident.
Ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) is a flammable liquid made by fermentation of a biomass. The flash point for ethanol is -114°C. Although flammability is a major hazard, it is also classified as a depressant drug when ingested. The level of intoxication is determined by the alcohol concentration in the brain. Ethanol is used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to: solvent for resins, dyes, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, beverages, antifreeze, explosives and cleaning preparations.