DUPO, Ill. -- A freight train believed to be bearing a flammable liquid used in solvents derailed in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis Tuesday, causing a fire that sent thick, black smoke into the air and prompted the evacuation of nearby schools and residences.
In a news release, Union Pacific said that the train derailed at its yard at about 12:45 p.m. in the town of Dupo, about 8 miles (14 kilometers) south of St. Louis. The railroad said initial information indicates that the tank car that first caught fire contains a flammable liquid called methyl isobutyl ketone that is typically used as a solvent.
Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South said the smoke from the fire does not pose a significant health hazard. But Dupo Police said as a precaution that students at a grade school, junior high school and high school were evacuated to a high school farther away. Police also said a few hundred residents of a mobile home park and a subdivision near the tracks have also been evacuated.
Video showed more than 10 train cars derailed and flames shooting from the wreckage.
By about 3 p.m., officials said the fire had been extinguished and the people who were evacuated had been allowed to return to their homes. St. Clair County Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons said there were no injuries reported. He also said the investigation into the derailment was continuing, including liquid leaking from some of the derailed cars.
Union Pacific released a statement that read:
"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."
WLS-TV contributed to this report
Union Pacific freight train derailment causes huge fire in southern Illinois