Gas Leak in Perris - Photo courtesy of OnScene.TV

A hazardous chemical spill from a rail car that posed an explosive threat in Perris prompted authorities Friday to expand an evacuation warning, impacting multiple neighborhoods and streets, some of which had already been evacuated.

According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the evacuation warning was enlarged to encompass the area south of Avenue A, east of Day Street, north of the Cajalco Expressway and west of Heacock Street.

Residents were advised to consider relocating to a safer place, including a care and reception center at Pinacate Middle School, 1990 S. A St.

Mandatory evacuations remained in place for residences and businesses north of Markham Street, east of Donna Lane, south of Nandina Avenue and west of Patterson Avenue.

The specific number of people impacted couldn’t immediately be confirmed, but officials said it ranged to several hundred, covering a half-mile radius.

As a precaution, the Val Verde Unified School District stopped classes at Mead Valley Elementary School, which is nearly a mile to the west of where the emergency was declared.

“The decision was made out of an abundance of safety and caution for the staff and students,” according to a VVUSD statement.

Beginning at 10 a.m., students were bused to Citrus High School, where they were retrieved by their parents and guardians, according to the school district.

“The pickup went smoothly,” VVUSD stated.

The spill at Harvill and Oleander avenues was reported around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and led to the closure of Interstate 215 south of Van Buren and north of the Ramona Expressway.

“This could resolve itself in two days, but it could get worse before it gets better,” Cal Fire Division Chief John Crater said at a news briefing. “They’ve also said due to the heat building in the car, that builds pressure and it could have a release, meaning some sort of violent explosion. That’s why we’re taking an abundance of caution with this.”

Temperatures were expected to reach 100 degrees in Perris Valley Friday.

Officials said that if the rail car begins to cool, it will mitigate the explosion risk.

“Once we start seeing that the rail car is actually cooling, what that tells us is the chemical reaction that’s happening in that car is actually now starting to solidify, which is the trend we want to see happening,” county fire Capt. Oscar Torres said.

Officials said the rail car contained roughly 188,000 pounds of styrene, a chemical used to make rubber, latex and commercial foam products. Due to the unstable nature of the chemical, authorities were unable to get near the car, and they’ve been using drones to monitor it.

Metrolink service on the 91/Perris Valley line was interrupted through the area, with the tracks closed between the Perris-Downtown and Moreno Valley/March Field stations.

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