Evacuations underway after freight train derails and catches fire in Minnesota

FromVictoria Arancio

Thursday, March 30, 2023 11:30 am

Evacuations underway after freight train derails and catches fire in Minnesota

A view of the area near a BNSF railroad train derailment near Raymond, Minnesota on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

ABC news

A freight train derailed in a burning accident near a small Minnesota town early Thursday, forcing residents to evacuate as a precaution, officials said.

The incident was reported around 1 a.m. CT. Several tank trucks from a train operated by BNSF Railway derailed and caught fire on the west edge of Raymond, a town in southwestern Kandiyohi County, Minnesota of fewer than 800 people. The tankers carried “a form of ethanol” and “corn.” syrupy liquid,” according to a press release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent confirmed to ABC News that “approximately 22 cars” of a train “carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup” derailed near Raymond at 1:02 a.m. CT. The company, one of the largest rail freight networks in North America, is investigating the cause of the incident and so far no casualties have been reported, according to Kent.

“BNSF field workers are responding to assess the derailment site and will be working closely with local first responders,” Kent told ABC News in a statement Thursday. “The main line is closed and an estimated time for the line to reopen is not available.”

A half-mile evacuation radius was established around the site of the derailment. Residents in the designated area “were ordered to leave their homes,” while those “who had nowhere to go” were sent to a school in the nearby city of Prinsburg, according to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire at the derailment site “is being contained” and the public is being advised not to travel to Raymond in the meantime, the sheriff’s office said.

The Raymond Fire Department, which dispatched firefighters to the scene, said in a Facebook post that the evacuation was “as a precautionary measure”.

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg confirmed in a statement Twitter post that the Federal Railroad Administration “is on the scene after a BNSF train carrying ethanol derailed early this morning, prompting an evacuation in the Raymond, MN, area.”

“No injuries or deaths have been reported at this time,” Buttigieg added. “We are closely monitoring as more details emerge and will be involved in the investigation.”

This is an evolving story. Please check again for updates.

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