Federal officials are responding to a train derailment in western Minnesota
A train carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire in Minnesota early Thursday, prompting nearby residents to evacuate their homes, authorities said. The BNSF train derailed at 1 a.m. in the town of Raymond, about 100 miles west of Minneapolis, according to a statement from Kandioh County Sheriff Eric Tollefson.
BNSF said in a statement that 22 cars were derailed and four caught fire, but no casualties were reported due to the accident.
“The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available,” according to a statement from BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent. “The cause of the incident is under investigation.”
Homes in a 1/2-mile area around the site were ordered to evacuate, according to Tollefson.
A shelter was set up at a nearby school and people were expected to be moved to a church later in the day so the school could hold classes, CBS Minnesota reported, adding that about 150 people spent the night in the shelter. The Red Cross helped.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN that about 14 vehicles were carrying hazardous materials. BNSF said the only hazardous material on board was ethanol.
“We contacted the governor,” Buttigieg said, and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency were heading to the site “due to hazardous material conditions.”
Railroad safety has been in the national spotlight since a fiery derailment last month Norfolk Southern Trains Near East Palestine, Ohio. About half of that town of about 5,000 people near the Pennsylvania state line had to be evacuated after officials decided to release toxic chemicals and burn them.
The train derailed Incredibly common In the United States, data from the Federal Railroad Administration shows that in 2022, there will be 1,154 such derailments, an average of more than three per day.
Major freight railroads have said they plan to add 1,000 more trackside detectors nationwide to spot equipment problems, but federal regulators and members of Congress have proposed additional reforms they want railroads to prevent future derailments.
Raymond is a town of about 800 residents, reports CBS Minnesota.