Reportedly, no one was injured in this massive train explosion and fire this morning in Ohio, so I don’t feel quite as icky as I usually do, gawking at the wonder of it all.
All 60 of the train’s tanks were carrying ethanol — about 320,000 gallons of it, to be exact. The train, en route from Chicago to North Carolina, derailed and exploded at 2:20 am, and the fireball could be seen for 15 miles.
The story on the local ABC affiliate refers to a “62-car train,” so I’m assuming the other two cars were engines at the front and rear. The photo gallery is sketchy, but still amazing — these are obviously photos taken on the fly, not by professional photographers.
The ABC video only the aftermath, but not the fireball. The fire was still burning as recently as a couple of hours ago. Local homes were evacuated, and rescue workers stayed back a mile, partially because of the proximity of the fire to an agricultural go-op with massive tanks of fertilizer — which is potentially explosive. The press conference has a few more details, but the most recent update I could find indicates that three fire departments had been contacted to bring fire-retardant foam.
No word on how much 320,000 gallons of ethanol are worth, or how much damage was done to the train tracks. The line is closed indefinitely, and priority trains are being routed around the site.
Some quick searching found lab-grade ethanol at US$24 per gallon. I’d wager that this is only fuel-grade, so I would guess at a price one quarter of that – so 320,000 x $6 = $1,920,000.
Quite a loss, but I’d expect that the train itself, cars and engines, cost more. It is going to be quite a disruption to rail traffic, I’m sure, though, and that may add just as much cost.
Very impressive fireball, though.