LIVE UPDATES: Massive explosion at start of controlled release of chemicals at train derailment

A massive explosion took place Monday afternoon at the scene of the train derailment at the beginning of a controlled release of chemicals.


UPDATE 2/6/23 8:05 p.m.:

During his update, Gov. Shapiro said everyone in a two mile radius of the train derailment scene is being asked to shelter in place.

Shapiro noted the EPA and DEP are monitoring air and water quality. No concerning readings have been detected.

Shapiro said he spoke to President Biden in the last hour regarding the situation. He said that Biden offered full support of the federal government to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Shapiro administration will continue to monitor the situation throughout the night and will communicate any changes needed.

UPDATE 2/6/23 7:20 p.m.:

Gov. Shapiro is set to give an update on the train derailment situation at 7:45 p.m.

UPDATE 2/6/23 5:30 p.m.:

Photos below from our crew nearby show the aftermath of the explosion.

UPDATE 2/6/23 4:45 p.m.:

An explosion happened at the scene of the train derailment. This was a controlled explosion as officials released toxic gas from one of the cars. In the video below, you can see a fireball shooting into the sky followed by dark black smoke.

UPDATE 2/6/23 4:30 p.m.:

Beaver County Emergency services said a public inquiry phone line has been opened at 724-773-6767.

UPDATE 2/6/23 3:35 p.m.:

Beaver County Emergency Services tweeted to inform residents that the impacted area is a small portion of Darlington Township. Any residents who needed to evacuate would have been notified.

UPDATE 2/6/23 3:20 p.m.:

In a press briefing Monday afternoon, Gov. Shapiro said that 10 of the 22 affected Pennsylvania residents had not yet evacuated as of Sunday evening.

Shapiro said the controlled release had the potential to be deadly.

"Following new modeling information conducted this morning and discussed at length between myself, Governor DeWine, and our respective teams, I am strongly, strongly encouraging an evacuation in a one-mile by two-mile area surrounding East Palestine that includes parts of both Ohio and Pennsylvania," Shapiro said.

Shapiro also said residents in the broader area of the evacuation map should exercise caution and follow instructions of local emergency personnel.

UPDATE 2/6/23 2:45 p.m.:

Gov. Shapiro said Pennsylvania officials will continue to monitor the situation closely with those in Ohio. Anyone in a one mile by two mile radius has been urged to evacuate ahead of the controlled chemical release.

UPDATE 2/6/23 2:10 p.m.

Gov. Shapiro and Gov. DeWine are asking residents in a one mile radius of East Palestine to evacuate immediately. The evacuation zone covers 22 Pennsylvania residents. Shapiro said many of those residents have already evacuated.

Beaver County Emergency Services has bene directing anyone with evacuation questions to call 330-457-0733.

Shapiro said anyone in the area who needs assistance evacuating can call State Police Beaver at 724-773-7400.

UPDATE 2/6/23 1:50 p.m.

Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railway said the planned, controlled release of toxic chemicals during the daytime will allow the fumes to disperse more quickly and prevent the rail cars from exploding and sending shrapnel and other debris from flying through the neighborhood.

He estimated the process would take from one to three hours, the Associated Press reports.

UPDATE 2/6/23 1:19 p.m.

Twenty homes in Darlington Township are being evacuated, according to Beaver County Commissioner Daniel Camp.

>>>Click here for photos from the ground and in the air<<<

UPDATE 2/6/23 12:50 p.m.

Ohio Gov. DeWine said there is a concern about a "catastrophic explosion" with one or more rail cars. He's in touch with Gov. Shapiro.

Both DeWine and Shapiro have decided on a 3:30 p.m. controlled chemical release. Everyone in a risk zone on the map below is ordered out.

Officials said the radius for this controlled release could widen if weather changes including wind patterns and precipitation.


UPDATE 2/6/23 12:34 p.m.:

The Blackhawk School District in Beaver Falls and the Western Beaver School District in Midland will have an early dismissal Monday. The districts said government agencies are requested the early dismissal due to the train derailment. More information from both districts can be found below:

From Western Beaver:


Due to the ongoing situation in East Palestine, Ohio, government agencies are requesting that Western Beaver School District transitions to an early dismissal today, Monday, February 6. Jr/Sr High School will dismiss at 12 noon, and Fairview will dismiss at 12:45. All drop-off times will adhere to a normal early release schedule.

All after school activities are cancelled for today. Please do not contact building offices unless it is an emergency.

Further updates will be available later this evening.

UPDATE 2/6/23 12:00 p.m.:

Due to road closures around the train derailment, the Family Assistance Center has been moved to:

Abundant Life Fellowship Church, 46469 OH-46, New Waterford, OH 44445.

UPDATE 2/6/23 11:26 a.m.:

The NTSB published a video of drone footage over the train derailment in East Palestine. Click below to watch the full video:

UPDATE 2/6/23 9:48 a.m.:

The village of East Palestine put out a statement saying that the one-mile evacuation zone remains in place. Read the full statement below:

UPDATE 2/6/23 8:40 a.m.

Due to the train derailment in Ohio, the following roadways will be closed until further notice, according to PennDOT:

  • Route 51 between Route 168 and Ohio

  • Anderson Road at Route 51

  • Little Beaver Road at Route 51

  • Taggert Road at Route 51

  • Valley Road at Taggert Road

  • Logtown Road at Route 51

  • Enon Road at Route 51

  • East Palestine Road at Route 51

  • Darlington Road at Route 51

  • Oakdale Road at Route 51

  • Agnew Drive at Route 51

  • Cannellton Road at Route 51

  • Route 168 - All traffic will take northbound Route 168

Posted Detour for Northbound Route 51

  • From northbound Route 51, turn right onto Route 168

  • Turn left onto Route 551

  • Bear left onto Route 351

  • Follow Route 351 into Ohio (Route 617)

  • Turn left onto Route 170 in Ohio

  • Follow Route 170 back to Route 14

  • End detour

UPDATE 2/6/23 5:52 a.m.

Police are going door to door this morning, making sure people are following an evacuation order put in place Sunday night.

Anyone living within a mile of the train derailment must evacuate, as officials fear an explosion.

UPDATE 2/5/23:

The governor of Ohio and Columbiana County officials have issued an urgent evacuation warning to anyone living within a mile of the train derailment site in East Palestine due to the possibility of an explosion.

Governor DeWine and other officials say a temperature change has taken place in a rail car containing vinyl chloride and there is now the potential of a "catastrophic tanker failure," which could result in an explosion that would be capable of launching shrapnel within a mile of the derailment site.

Local officials say more than 500 people are still living within a mile of the derailment site and they are asking them to leave immediately.

Members of the Columbiana County Sheriff's office say anyone with children who stays within the area could be arrested.

"There could be possible charges if you choose to stay," said authorities. "Misconduct in an emergency or if you have children in your house is child-endangering and that will be enforced."

Officials say if a catastrophic failure occurs it will produce hydrogen chloride gas into the atmosphere.

The National Guard was sent to the scene with several local agencies at around 8 p.m. Officials say they are working to prevent the explosion from happening.

Anyone who needs help evacuating is asked to call 330-426-4341.


Fire is still burning in East Palestine, Ohio, after 50 cars derailed Friday evening. The village is located on the state border with Beaver County.

According to our news affiliates at WFMJ, initial calls came out just after 9 p.m. to the area of East Taggart Street along the railroad tracks Friday night.

Multiple photos submitted by viewers show huge flames and smoke billowing from the area.

Beaver County 911 said a shelter-in-place order is in place for residents of Darlington Township. The was still in place as of Sunday evening.

According to the NTSB, 20 cars contained hazardous material.

"Four tank cars carrying vinyl chloride were involved in the derailment and have been exposed to fire. At least one vinyl chloride car is intermittently releasing the contents of the car through a pressure relief device as designed," a representative from the NTSB said.

Right now, officials are letting it burn. They say that's the safest way to handle the situation. It's unclear if any of the chemicals are on fire. Investigators haven't been able to get close enough to check it out for themselves.

The train was traveling from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania.

Fire departments from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were all called to assist.

Despite a strong and sometimes overwhelming smell, local officials say the EPA and Norfolk Southern are monitoring the air and say there are no health risks from chemicals so far.

Norfolk Southern released a document providing answers to a series of frequently asked questions about safety from people who live in the area. That document can be read below.

Norfolk Southern FAQ by WPXI Staff on Scribd

It's unclear when people will be allowed back into their homes.

"We have to work with the EPA, work with Norfolk Southern and figure out when the best time is to let people back," East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said.

It's also too early to tell what led to the derailment. The NTSB says a preliminary report could be ready in 4-6 weeks. A full investigation could last up to two years.

People within a one-mile radius of the derailment are evacuated and anyone who has not evacuated the area is encouraged to stay inside their homes. Additionally, officials said outsiders should stay away from the village and people should keep off the roads to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.

No one was hurt due to the derailment, WFMJ reports.

Norfolk Sothern said a family assistance center has been set up to support anyone who has been directly impacted.

The address of the center is East Palestine City Park, Recreation Hall, 31 Park Avenue, East Palestine, OH 44413.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Norfolk Southern sets up assistance center for people displaced by East Palestine train derailment

The center will be open Saturday night from 4 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross has allowed the organization to set up several shelters throughout the community.

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Officials: North Carolina man missing since Christmas Eve found dismembered, sealed in concrete Train derailment causes huge fire in East Palestine, shelter in place ordered in Darlington Township 18-year-old charged in fatal Christmas Eve crash in Sewickley Heights VIDEO: DOWNLOAD the Channel 11 News app for breaking news alerts


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