Derailment in Illinois suburb of St. Louis causes fire, evacuations

DUPO, Ill. — A freight train believed to be bearing a flammable liquid used in solvents derailed Tuesday in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis, 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 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.

State seeks to add counties, including those in mid-Mo., to disaster declaration

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri is asking the federal government to expand a disaster declaration for this year’s flooding and storms to include 14 more counties and the city of St. Louis.

A request letter sent Tuesday says preliminary assessments have identified more than $14 million of emergency response costs and damage to public infrastructure in those jurisdictions. That’s on top of about $49 million of damages identified in 68 counties previously approved for the presidential disaster declaration.

The declaration covers flooding and storms that occurred between April 29 and July 5.

In addition to St. Louis city, the other counties for which Missouri is seeking federal public assistance are Benton, Boone, Callaway, Clay, Cooper, Dunklin, Gasconade, Howard, Lafayette, Lincoln, Pulaski, Scott, St. Clair and St. Charles.

— The Associated Press

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