Train carrying oil derails, causes fireball
31 December 2013, 12:43
Casselton - Authorities urged residents to evacuate a small
North Dakota town on Monday night after a mile-long (1.6km) train carrying
crude oil derailed outside of town, shaking residents with a series of
explosions that sent flames and black smoke skyward.
The Cass County sheriff's office said it was "strongly
recommending" that people in the town of Casselton and anyone living 8km to
the south and east evacuate. A shelter has been set up in Fargo, which is about
40km away. Casselton has about 2 400 residents.
The sheriff's office said the National Weather Service was
forecasting a shift in the weather that could increase the risk of potential
"That's going to put the plume right over the top of
Casselton," Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said at a news briefing.
As many as 10 cars out of more than 100 caught fire when the
BNSF Railway Co. train left the tracks at about 14:30 local time on Monday. No
one was hurt.
The cars were still burning as darkness fell, and
authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.
Authorities hadn't yet been able to determine exactly how
the derailment happened, but a second train carrying grain was involved. BNSF
spokesperson Amy McBeth said the train carrying grain derailed first, then
knocked several cars of the oil train off adjoining tracks.
Ryan Toop, who lives about 800 metres away, said he heard
explosions and drove as close as about two city blocks to the fire, which
erupted on a day when temperatures were -18 Celsius.
"I rolled down the window, and you could literally keep
your hands warm," Toop said.
The derailment happened amid increased concerns about the
United States' increased reliance on rail to carry crude oil. Fears of
catastrophic derailments were particularly stoked after last July's crash in a
Quebec town of a runaway train carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken
oil patch. Forty-seven people died in the ensuing fire.