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Leaking Tank Car in La. Is Moved

May 30, 2000

EUNICE, La. (AP) _ Firefighters Tuesday doused the last remaining blaze from a weekend train derailment as nearly 3,000 people remained out of their homes and businesses for a fourth day.

The stubborn final blaze, burning plastic pellets in hopper cars, was extinguished after noon, but a fear of hot-spot explosions in other cars kept the evacuees out of the area.

About 30 cars of a 113-car Union Pacific train derailed Saturday and caught fire, triggering two big explosions that forced evacuations in this south-central Louisiana town. Some of the derailed cars were loaded with hazardous material.

With the flames out, firefighters got close enough to spray water and cool down the main pile of debris. Close behind were inspectors, checking on possible hazardous materials or the danger of explosions.

Chris Guillory, spokesman for state police, said no timetable for the evacuees’ return could be made until federal inspectors look over the wreckage.

Meanwhile, crews moved a tank car that did not derail but was leaking flammable ethylene oxide. A flare was set off to safely burn away the load.

Around midnight Sunday, experts used explosives to destroy a tank car that contained acrylic acid, which, in large amounts, can cause serious injuries and death. The car’s emergency release valves failed and officials feared the tank would explode unless the pressure was released in a controlled explosion.

Richard and Lucille Langley, along with a niece and five children under the age of 10, crammed into a single room at the Crowley Inn _ their meals and lodging provided by the railroad since they arrived Saturday night.

Their house is down the tracks about a mile from the derailment, close enough that the explosions shook the windows and chased the children out of the swimming pool.

``We could see it burning, but we didn’t know what happened until it actually blew up,″ Mrs. Langley said.

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