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Seven officers have been hospitalized after breathing in the toxic fumes

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 02, 2015 08:20 AM
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Thousands of people in a two-mile radius have been evacuated after a train carrying a “highly flammable and toxic gas” partially derailed and caught fire just outside Knoxville, Tennessee, on early Thursday morning.

Officials estimate the evacuation, which thus far affects at least 5,000 people, could last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours while they attempt to deal with the poisonous gas, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook.

While there are no reports of fatalities, at least seven officers have been hospitalized for breathing in the harmful fumes, NBC News reports.

The train was carrying liquid petroleum gas and acrylonitrile, which is used to manufacture plastics. If inhaled, it can cause membrane irritation, headaches, nausea and kidney irritation, according to EPA.

Up to three cars were on fire early Thursday morning, with one car having derailed entirely. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Waycross, Georgia, and consisted of two locomotives, 45 loaded rail cars and 12 empty cars, company spokeswoman Kristin Seay said.