BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said in a statement to DTN: “Approximately 22 wagons carrying mixed cargo, including ethanol and corn syrup, are believed to have derailed with four wagons on fire. There are no other hazardous materials on the train and no injuries as a result BNSF field staff are on site surveying the derailment site and are working closely with local first responders. Residents and businesses affected by the incident can call 866-243-4784 for assistance at 866-243-4784 the line is unavailable. The cause of the incident is being investigated.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he would visit the derailment site along with state emergency management personnel on Thursday, and was briefed by US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg issued a brief statement on Twitter: “The FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) is on the ground after a BNSF train carrying ethanol derailed early this morning, prompting an evacuation in the Raymond, Minnesota area. There have been no injuries or fatalities reported at this time. We are closely monitoring as more details emerge and will be involved in the investigation.
According to several media reports, there was an explosion during the derailment. In addition, Raymond Mayor and Deputy Fire Chief Ardell Tensen told Minnesota Public Radio the derailment was loud enough that some city firefighters heard cars crashing together on the west edge of town.
WCCO Minneapolis reporter Pauleen Le reported Thursday morning that local firefighters are continuing to monitor the blaze.
“Raymond Assist. Fire Chief says they — along with crews from neighboring communities — sprayed thousands upon thousands of gallons of water on a derailment of a 22-car train,” Le reported on Twitter. “Cars carried ethanol and corn syrup. Now let the ethanol burn out.”
Le said in a tweet that about 50 to 60 residents of Raymond had been evacuated.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Highway 23 is closed in Raymond from Kandiyohi CR1 to Chippewa CR1 and is expected to remain closed through noon Friday.
Minnesota State Assemblyman Dave Baker, R-Willmar, issued a statement after the derailment.
“First of all, I am grateful that this tragic situation did not result in any injuries or fatalities,” Baker said.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders, who responded quickly to evacuate the area and ensured residents were evacuated to safety. I also want to thank the generous residents of Prinsburg and Central Minnesota Christian School for their efforts to ensure the evacuees have somewhere to go. Going forward, I will remain in constant contact with city, county, state and federal officials to ensure the community is getting the support it needs.”
In addition, the Minnesota Red Cross is on site to provide shelter to evacuated residents and assist first responders.
Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley
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