A small city in central Minnesota is under an evacuation order after a train derailed and burst into flames on Thursday.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway train was carrying a form of ethanol and corn syrup when it came off the tracks at around 1 a.m. local time, according to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. About 22 rail cars reportedly derailed, with several tank cars catching on fire.
The Raymond Fire Department initially doused the train cars with thousands of gallons of water and said it is now letting the fire burn out. No injuries have been reported but parts of the city of Raymond, population 782, have been evacuated and people are being advised against traveling around the area.
BNSF confirmed the derailment Thursday morning on Twitter, adding that an estimated time for reopening the line is unavailable and that the cause of the derailment is under investigation. The train track was blocked as of Thursday.
“An evacuation area of ½ mile was established around the crash site and law enforcement officers and other EMS assisted with that evacuation,” the Sheriff’s Office statement said. “Residents were instructed to leave their homes and an emergency collection site for those with nowhere to go was established at the Central Minnesota Christian School building in nearby Prinsburg, Minnesota.”
Displaced residents have also been redirected to a church in Prinsburg that was hosting 50-60 people late this morning, according to WCCO.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed on Twitter Thursday, that they are “tracking closely as more details emerge” and his office will be involved as the investigation unfolds. Buttigieg told CNN that his department had been in touch with the governor. He added that Federal Railroad Administration personnel were on the ground and that the Environmental Protection Agency was headed to the site as well “given the hazardous material situation.”
“The most important thing for anyone in the affected area to know is that you’ve got to pay close attention to any instructions coming from first responders regarding the evacuation or anything else local officials are telling you,” Buttigieg added. “That is for your safety.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted Thursday morning that he would be heading to the scene to meet with local officials soon.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said that Highway 23 is also temporarily closed at Raymond from Kandiyohi CR 1 to Chippewa CR 1, estimating that the closure will remain until midnight.
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