Virginia Firefighters Get Machine To Put Out Ethanol Fires

ALEXANDRIA, Va. --

Alexandria firefighters now have a way to put out fires, should they occur, at an ethanol transfer facility two months after trains and trucks began transporting the highly flammable substance in the area.

Ethanol is transferred between trains and trucks at the Norfolk Southern facility located near large housing complexes and a school.

"Ethanol is a highly flammable product, and having it stored in bulk quantities here inside the Beltway and adjacent to many of the properties that are nearby certainly presents a protection challenge," said Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel.

The facility has been operating for two months, but firefighters just received a machine needed to spread special foam necessary for putting out ethanol fires.

City officials said they didn't know the facility was operating. They were told last summer that Norfolk Southern was going to build the station, but city officials thought they could stop it.

They said the station was built without their knowledge. According to federal law, the railroad company didn't need local approval and didn't tell the fire department the facility was here until the week before it opened.

Norfolk Southern has admitted making communication missteps.

Residents said they just want the station to be gone. They worry about evacuating the area in the event of a problem.

Residents have said they will keep up public pressure to get the railroad to move or get the federal government to intervene.

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