In a news release, Union Pacific says that the train derailed at its yard at about 12:45 p.m. in the town of Dupo, about 8 miles (14 kilometers) south of St. Louis. The railroad says initial information indicates that the tank car that first caught fire contains a flammable liquid called methyl isobutyl ketone that is typically used as a solvent.
Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South said the smoke from the fire does not pose a significant health hazard. But Dupo Police said as a precaution that students at a grade school, junior high school and high school have been evacuated to a high school farther away. Police also said a few hundred residents of a mobile home park and a subdivision near the tracks have also been evacuated.
Video shows more than 10 train cars derailed and flames shooting from the wreckage.