Some evacuation orders were lifted late Friday night and the 215 Freeway was reopened in both directions after fire officials determined the leaking contents of a railcar near Perris were no longer an imminent threat, authorities said.
Evacuation orders for homes and businesses west of the 215 Freeway remain in place, Cal Fire officials said, and the Harley Knox off-ramps remained closed.
But those who live east of the freeway were allowed to return to their homes just before midnight, officials said. Businesses east of the freeway could reopen Saturday.
#OleanderIC cont. The Evacuation ORDERS east of Interstate 215 have been lifted and the Evacuation WARNING has been lifted in it’s entirety.
The Evacuation ORDER for the area west of I215 remains in place and the Care and Reception site at Pinnate Middle School,Perris is open. pic.twitter.com/No6lFmbDT8
— CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department (@CALFIRERRU) August 13, 2022
Firefighters responded to the railcar, near Oleander and Harvill avenues, after Cal Fire received calls of a large plume of smoke coming from the area, Cal Fire Division Chief John Crater said Friday morning.
A Hazmat team was sent out after firefighters noticed a leak toward the top of the rail car, Crater said. It was later determined the chemical inside was styrene, which is used to make foam products.
The contents inside the insulated rail car reached 323 degrees at one point, but the temperature had started to come back down as of Friday morning. It wasn’t known what the temperature was as of Saturday morning.
Crater, while talking with experts, learned there was a possibility of an explosion and officials evacuated everyone within a half-mile radius, which included 170 homes. Evacuation warnings were later placed for the immediate area surrounding the half-mile radius.
They also shut down the 215 Freeway between the Ramona Expressway to the south and Cactus Avenue to the north, which brought traffic to a crawl as officials diverted drivers to side streets.
The freeway reopening and the lifting of some of the evacuation orders came around 11:45 p.m. Friday night.
An evacuation center was set up at Pinacate Middle School, 1990 S. A St., in Perris, for those still affected by the evacuation orders.