Smoke and flames erupt from the scene of a train derailment near Galenda, Ill. on March 5, 2015.
Mike Burley—Telegraph Herald/AP
By Sarah Begley
March 6, 2015

A 105-car freight train derailed in Illinois Thursday night, and at least two of the 103 cars loaded with crude oil were set ablaze.

The train derailed in a rural area near Galena, Ill. and no injuries have been reported. Local officials announced a voluntary evacuation for residents within a one-mile radius of the site. At least five cars derailed from the train, which originated in North Dakota.

Freight railroad network BNSF said in a statement that the cause of the derailment was unknown and that the company would help local residents whose property was damaged or who needed help temporarily relocating.

The federal government is working on new regulations for rail safety in the wake of a string of explosions from derailed oil trains, as recently reported:

Safety on the rails is critical because of the surging volumes of oil moving on the nation’s railways. An estimated 400,000 barrels of oil were transported by railcar in 2013, a dramatic jump from just 11,000 barrels in 2009, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

The federal government has been criticized for taking way too long to issue new safety standards. The Department of Transportation proposed new rules in August, but has now twice pushed off finalizing those rules, missing the original deadline at the end of 2014.

Another train carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia less than a month ago, setting off a large fire and causing evacuations.


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