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Tank cars still burn at site of Ohio derailment; crews will allow fire to burn itself out

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    PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Railroad tank cars carrying ethanol continued burning Thursday, more than 24 hours after a derailment and explosion drove hundreds of people from their homes, officials said.
    Firefighters had been battling the blaze after Wednesday’s accident, but authorities are now letting the fire burn out on its own, something that could take another 12 hours or so, said Ken Gauntner, Lake County administrator.
    After the derailment about noon Wednesday, residents of about 1,300 households within a half mile of the site in the northeast Ohio town were told to leave their homes, Gauntner said.
    By Thursday noon, that order had been reduced to those living within about a quarter mile, he said. But that was still affecting about 400 to 500 households.
    Eight of the cars were loaded with potentially hazardous materials, mostly ethanol. One tanker that did not catch fire carried the more dangerous liquefied petroleum gas, said Garrick Francis, a spokesman for Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Corp.
    Through the night and into Thursday, firefighters poured water on the tanker carrying LP gas to keep the fire from spreading to it.
    Mike Settles, spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said air monitors overnight didn’t detect any problems. He was on his way to the site to assess the situation and wasn’t aware of any long-term environmental effects.
    About 30 cars in the 112-car train derailed as it traveled from Collingwood to Buffalo, N.Y., the railroad said. No injuries were reported.
    The cause of the derailment will not be determined until inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board can get into the site, Gauntner said.

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