First Responders Talk About Train Derailment Emergency Response Effort

The clean-up continues Tuesday on the massive train derailment in Henderson County.   Union Pacific had hoped to remove the 28 derailed cars Tuesday, but says crews are having trouble getting to the cars deep in the woods.   Tuesday, Union Pacific began building a temporary road, which it hopes to have done by the end of the week. Crews will use the road to go in, scrap the train cars and remove the pieces. Union Pacific also began removing the lube oil that had spilled into the lake, using a vacuum.

Sunday's derailment is an emergency situation first responders prepare for every year. Chandler Fire Chief was at home when he received a page saying a train derailment had occurred, and chemicals were on fire.

"That's the worse thing a fire chief wants to hear is that kind of a call," said Robert York, Chandler Fire Chief. Not knowing exactly what they were dealing with, York says they had to prepare for the worst.

"We have to react to that as it if is the worst chemical that we can have on the ground and on fire," said York. "We dispatched our trucks. We had two engines and ten firemen that responded. I told Athens to go ahead and contact Tyler Hazmat and they came." Once on the scene, York says a fire that was at first on the grass moved to a nearby chemical. At that point, they ordered the evacuations.

"Our deputies and our troopers started going door to door, as well as Chandler PD," said York.   York then went up in a helicopter and took pictures of the derailment.  Using Tyler Hazmat's equipment they were able to identify the chemical as Lube Oil.

"We decided this was not bad stuff and decided to send people home," said York. York says in 23 years as fire chief, he' s never responded to such a disaster, but says he pleased with how things went.

"It's unorganized chaos at first, for the first five to ten minutes," said York. "I'd say the first ten minutes because my cell phone is ringing and our radios are talking. After that, once we started getting the game plan together and got to a spot, it went very well."   York says everyone involved in Sunday's response effort will soon meet and evaluate what happened.

Molly Reuter, reporting.