Hundreds evacuate after BNSF train derails in Minnesota

  • BNSF train carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed in Raymond, Minnesota
  • BNSF field personnel are responding to assess the derailment site
  • No injuries or fatalities have been reported, authorities investigating

RAYMOND, Minn. (NewsNation) — Hundreds of people had to evacuate in the city of Raymond after a Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) train derailed and caught fire early Thursday morning.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center was notified of the train derailment at approximately 1 a.m. CT. Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene, according to the Kandiyohi Sheriff’s Office.

According to a press release, numerous rail cars were derailed on the western edge of the city, within the city limits. Several of the tankers caught fire, burning ethanol and corn syrup liquid the train had been hauling.

BNSF confirmed the derailment in a statement, saying that 22 cars carrying mixed freight had derailed and four cars had caught fire.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident. Authorities were hopeful that the quick response and cold weather would help limit the impact of this latest crash.

The evacuation order was lifted around noon.

“One woman I spoke with who lived right next to the tracks said it just smelled like burning rubber,” Tim Harlow, a reporter at the Star Tribune, said on “Morning in America.” “I think they’re still trying to figure out what impacts it’ll have, but it’s definitely not a good situation.”

Law enforcement officers and EMS assisted with the evacuations within the vicinity of the crash site. An emergency collection site for evacuees with nowhere to go was originally set up at the Central Minnesota Christian School building in Prinsburg, but will be moved to Unity Church later in the morning, the sheriff’s office said.

In a tweet, the Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes said EPA personnel arrived on scene at 6:30 a.m. to provide air monitoring throughout the community.

The site remains active as firefighters and first responders work to contain the fire. The press release also advised no travel warning to the city.

“BNSF field personnel are responding to assess the derailment site and will be working closely with local first responders. The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available. The cause of the incident is under investigation,” BNSF General Director of Public Affairs Lena Kent said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also acknowledged the derailment, tweeting, that the Federal Railroad Agency is on the ground.

“We are tracking closely as more details emerge and will be involved in the investigation,” he wrote.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he has been briefed on the incident and is traveling to the crash site where he will be on the ground with local officials soon. He said he has also been in contact with Buttigieg.

“The state stands ready to protect the health and safety of the community,” Walz tweeted.

This train crash comes in the wake of a series of train derailments, including the fiery Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which has put a spotlight on railroad safety. Roughly half of that town of about 5,000 people near the Pennsylvania border had to be evacuated after officials decided to release and burn toxic chemicals.

Harlow said the woman he talked to had been wondering if a derailment would happen in her area.

“Unfortunately, this morning, it did,” he said.

Federal regulators and members of Congress have proposed reforms they want railroads to make to prevent future derailments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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