St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company Freight Train Derailment and Rupture of Vinyl Chloride Tank Car

What Happened

About 12:10 a.m., on March 29, 1978, 4 locomotive units and 43 cars of St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company freight train SRASK derailed when they entered an 8 curve in the wye track at Lewisville, Arkansas. The body of the 13th car struck and ruptured the tank head of the 12th car, releasing vinyl chloride into the atmosphere. The vinyl chloride subsequently ignited and buildings within a 1,500-foot radius of the ruptured car were damaged. About 1,700 residents of Lewisville were evacuated. The engineer and two head brakemen were injured. Property damage was estimated to be $2,189,000.