Firefighters, emergency officials respond to chemical spill, power outages

Marion firefighters and local emergency officials had a busy 24 hours as they dealt with a chemical spill at the Hankins Road entrance, a wreck on Main Street which knocked out traffic signals in the downtown and a power outage for the Cross Mill community.

The Marion Fire Department responded to a chemical spill at Rhinehart’s Saw & Lawn on U.S. 221 Business North Extension at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Fire Chief Ray McDaniel said it appeared a container turned over while being unloaded with a fork lift from a tractor-trailer in the parking lot. The chemical leaked out into the parking lot and into a drainage ditch. The entrance to Hankins Road was closed for a couple of hours near the spill. The chemical was a livestock foot bath solution that did contain sulfuric acid, according to a news release.

The N.C. Hazardous Material Regional Response Team from Asheville Fire Department responded and assessed the situation. The team turned the container upright, did some more evaluations and determined it would be safe and best to dilute the spilled product with water. On scene to assist were McDowell County Emergency Management, N.C. State Highway Patrol, the Marion Police Department, the N.C. Department of Transportation, Marion Public Works and N.C. Emergency Management. All agencies cleared the scene at 4:30 p.m., according to the news release.

Then Tuesday evening, a tractor-trailer accident caused most of the traffic signals on Main Street in downtown Marion to stop operating.

At 6:41 p.m., the driver of a tractor-trailer was attempting to turn right onto East Court Street from South Main. The trailer went onto the sidewalk and struck a utility pole holding the stop-and-go traffic signals. The pole fell on top of the trailer. No one was injured in this accident, according to the report by Marion Police Officer Robert Walker.

The damage to the light pole affected all of the traffic signals on Main Street in the middle of downtown Marion. Motorists were urged to travel on Garden and Logan streets until the power to the signals could be restored.

Marion Fire Department responded to the intersection of Main and Court streets where the crash happened. Marion Fire Department assisted the police with traffic control. Yosef Ben Israel, the driver of the tractor-trailer, was charged with making an unsafe movement, according to the report by Walker with the Police Department.

As of 5:05 a.m. Wednesday morning, crews were still on Main Street attempting to repair the damage to the traffic signal pole from the crash. Marion Fire Department cleared the scene at 7:02 p.m. All other traffic signals were working properly on Main Street by Wednesday morning.

In the early morning hours Wednesday, a large tree fell in the Cross Mill community. Marion Fire Department responded to 170 Carson St. at 1:46 a.m. on Wednesday because of the tree and downed power lines, which affected electricity and travel in the community.

The large tree fell and took out five utility poles, power lines, and electricity to multiple residents in the Cross Mill community. Duke Energy was called to restore power.

Carson Street, Murray Street and sections of Tate Street were closed due to the downed power poles and lines. Carson Street was shut down temporarily from West Cross Street to Blue Ridge Street. Murray Street was completely inaccessible for a while due to the large tree and power poles across the roadway. Motorists were urged to take an alternate route in that area of Marion. Cross Mill was without power early Wednesday morning but Blue Ridge Terrace Apartments had electricity, according to news releases from emergency officials.

Marion Police Department assisted with the incident. Marion Fire Department cleared the scene at 2:33 a.m. By around 8 a.m. Wednesday, power was restored to the Cross Mill area, according to a news release.

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