Train Hauling Crude Derails, Explodes

Thursday, January 2, 2014 @ 12:01 PM gHale

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded, triggering a “giant fireball” after colliding with another train in North Dakota Monday.

The mile-long train carrying crude oil exploded in Casselton, ND, near the homes of 2000 residents who officials recommended to evacuate the area as a forecasted shift in the wind could send hazardous smoke over the town.

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The Cass County Sheriff’s Office said residents in Casselton and anyone living five miles to the south and east should evacuate to shelters set up in Fargo, which is about 25 miles away. Casselton has about 2,400 residents.

The sheriff’s office said the National Weather Service was forecasting a shift in the winds that would push the plume of smoke down, possibly posing a health risk. Earlier, authorities had advised nearby residents to shelter inside their homes.

The freight train carrying crude oil hit another train hauling grain that had derailed on Monday afternoon, causing an explosion and sending flames shooting more than 100 feet into the air. There were no immediate injuries in the incident.

Authorities said local emergency crews responding to reports of a derailment discovered the oil train burning, with up to 10 cars fully engulfed.

“There was an explosion, where a car let loose and there was a giant fireball, hundreds of feet in the air,” said Assistant Chief Gary Lorenz of the City of Fargo Fire Department, who was in touch with a crew on the scene.

The collision occurred at a street intersection just before 2:20 p.m., when the westbound BNSF Railway train carrying grain derailed and was then hit by the eastbound train carrying oil, Cecily Fong, a public information officer with North Dakota Emergency Services. BNSF owned both trains, she said.

Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF Railway, confirmed the collision but said she could provide no additional details.

Fong said the train carrying grain was approximately 111 cars long and crews were able to get the unaffected cars separated from the burning wreckage and moved out of the way.



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