AKRON, Ohio — Two Summit County fire departments have sent volunteers to East Palestine to assist with the aftermath of a train derailment that has raised health concerns and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Akron Fire Chief Joseph Natko confirmed Tuesday four of his firefighters were deployed to Columbiana County for a 12-hour shift beginning this morning. In addition, Cuyahoga Falls sent its own team of four members.
"We understand and appreciate the need from our fellow firefighters and departments," Natko said in a statement. "We are pleased to be able to send help where needed."
The village of East Palestine has been dealing with this situation since Friday night, when a Norfolk Southern freight train came off the tracks due to what officials think was an axle issue with one of the cars. The wreckage subsequently burst into flames, and those within a mile radius of the crash were ordered to evacuate due to the risk of an explosion as well as the potential for toxic fumes from certain chemicals being transported, particularly vinyl chloride.
Crews conducted a "controlled release" of the chemicals on Monday that send clouds of smoke billowing into the air, and as of Tuesday Norfolk Southern says all five cars carrying vinyl chloride are no longer burning. The Environmental Protection Agency says there have thus far been no indications of unsafe air quality outside the evacuation zone, but there is still no timeline as to when residents from within that zone will be able to return to their homes.
"I want nothing more than to get my residents back home," East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said. "I can't do that without [more] data. ... I'm not a subject matter expert on that; I'm a fireman."
Meanwhile, Akron released the names of the firefighters headed to Columbiana County and commended them for their efforts. They are:
- Lt. Ken Johnson
- Lt. Dustin Davis
- Brooke Cutter
- Matt Face
- Lt. Scott Christiansen
- Kenneth Facemine
- Rob Gipson
- Aaron Volcansek