Authorities in East Palestine hope to get a better idea of what chemicals are burning in fifty tankers that derailed and caught fire near East Taggart Street shortly before 9 p.m. Friday.

The media was given an update at 6:30 a.m. Saturday by East Palestine Mayor Trent Conway, Fire Chief Keith Drabick, Columbiana County EMA Director Peggy Clark, and U.S. EPA Region 5 coordinator Josh Peters.

Mayor Conway started the briefing by acknowledging that although an evacuation order is mandatory, authorities can’t force people from their homes.

He said those who don’t evacuate need to stay in their homes and stay off the roads to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.

As of Saturday morning, a one mile evacuation remains in place for the areas of the village East of Market St from Highland Avenue to Jimtown Rd.

Conway says there have been no fatalities or injuries.

According to Fire Chief Drabick, they know that some of chemicals being transported on the Norfolk and Southern train traveling from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania are hazardous. However, it is still unknown what chemicals are burning.

Drabick hopes to learn more about which tankers are burning after sunrise using drones and other aircraft.  A “no fly zone” for 1 mile from the scene has been declared for non-emergency aircraft.

First responders have been pulled from the area since some tankers have exploded and continue to do so.

The fire department has put unmanned ground monitors in place to provide information to emergency officials for now.

Drabick expanded on the mayor’s advice for people to keep off the streets, adding that outsiders should also stay away from the village.

EMA Director Peggy Clark reminded evacuees that a shelter is open at East Palestine High School, 320 West Grant Street and the New Waterford Community Center. As of Saturday morning, 43 people came to the school.

The Red Cross is assisting people at the high school.

Clark says EMA is working with Norfolk and Southern Railroad for to set up a family assistance center, the location of which is yet to be determined.

EPA Coordinator Josh Peters says water and air is being monitored. So far the air quality remains good according to Chief Drabick.



Photo Credit:Jacob Butcher, Trey Fehn, Dante Trunzo