When news broke in early February of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment and chemical spill, we watched from Arizona with a sense of empathy, but with that abstract feeling these events were taking place on the other side of the country. We never imagined we could be living a similar event right on our doorstep.

Alerts Change Everything

Everything changed yesterday. A quick check of TikTok turned up dozens of amateur reports and analysis from those caught in in the I-10 traffic as they made their way past the scene late in the afternoon.

Since my kid attends the University of Arizona, I first became aware of the ongoing event by UA Alert via text message.

@karlabojorquez1986 via TikTok
@karlabojorquez1986 via TikTok


The UA Tech Park is situated right off the I-10, and within a short distance of the crash, so the information was relevant to alert subscribers.

The first UA Alert appeared on my cell at 4:25pm Tuesday afternoon, with the following message:


HAZMAT release on I-10 between Kolb & Rita Rd. affecting Science & Tech Park, 9030 S. Rita Road.

Subsequent alerts advised anyone within a mile of the crash site to shelter in place and turn off any air conditioning or heating units - anything that could bring in air from the outside and await further information.

Another later alert instructed:


Avoid travel in this area of I-10. Follow directions of public safety at scene. If told to evacuate follow directions provided.


KGUN9 News has been providing continual updates, and as of 9:15 Wednesday morning, the shelter in place order has been reinstated by the Department of Public Safety. DPS has extended the shelter in place radius to 3 miles, citing a nitric acid spill as the cause of the toxic cloud.

What to Do If You've Been Exposed

Anyone who has been exposed to the toxic fumes and is experiencing shortness of breath or trouble breathing has been advised to seek medical attention.

Further information regarding the spill can be found on the Pima County Health Department website.

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