Evacuation Order Lifted After Train Carrying Flammable Materials Derails in Minnesota, Catches Fire

Evacuation Order Lifted After Train Carrying Flammable Materials Derails in Minnesota, Catches Fire
Firefighters stand near piled up train cars, near Raymond, Minn., on March 30, 2023, the morning after a BNSF freight train derailed. (Kerem Yücel/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Tom Ozimek

A freight train traveling through Minnesota derailed in a fiery crash near the town of Raymond, prompting an evacuation of area residents. The evacuation order was later lifted.

The train, operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), went off the tracks on the western edge of Raymond at around 1 a.m. local time, according to a statement from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.

“Emergency personnel were dispatched and soon located a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train that had numerous rail cars derail,” the sheriff’s office said.

The tankers were carrying a “form of ethanol” and a “corn syrup liquid,” according to the sheriff’s office, which noted that several of the derailed cars caught on fire.

An evacuation zone was established for half a mile around the derailment site and emergency crews helped residents evacuate, per the statement.

Residents were told to leave their homes and a collection site was set up at the Central Minnesota Christian School building in nearby Prinsburg was set up for those with nowhere to go.

“The site remain active as the fire is being contained,” the sheriff’s office said, adding that travel to Raymond, which has a population of around 800, is not advised.

BNSF spokesperson Lena Kent told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that “approximately 22 cars” with mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup had derailed “with four cars on fire.”

“There are no other hazardous materials on the train and no injuries as a result of the incident,” she said, adding that BNSF field personnel were responding to evaluate the derailment site and would work with local first responders.

“The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available. The cause of the incident is under investigation,” Kent added.

EPA officials said on Twitter that four ethanol cars ruptured and the flammable fuel additive caught fire in the derailment. They continued to burn Thursday hours after the derailment. The evacuation order was lifted around noon.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took to Twitter to say that the Federal Railroad Administration “is on the ground after a BNSF train carrying ethanol derailed early this morning, leading to an evacuation in the area of Raymond, MN.”

“At present no injuries or fatalities have been reported,” Buttigieg added.

The cause of the derailment remains unclear.

“We are tracking closely as more details emerge and will be involved in investigation,” the Transportation Secretary added.

Railroad safety surged into the spotlight when last month’s fiery derailment of a Norfolk Southern train near East Palestine, Ohio.

Roughly half of the town’s residents had to be evacuated after officials decided to release and burn toxic chemicals that the Norfolk Southern train was carrying.

On Wednesday, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw visited East Palestine, where he heard from residents concerned about loss of property value, water quality, and long-term health impacts, according to local media outlet Herald-Star.

“What I’ve heard from the citizens is that they are really concerned about water, access to health care, and property evaluation,” Shaw told the outlet.

The Norfolk Southern CEO said that the company has already committed $27 million to the community and called it “just a start.”

He said that around 12,000 tons of dirt had already been moved from the site of the toxic derailment, along with 9 million gallons of water.

“We are going to be here. A year from now, five years and ten years from now,” he pledged, per the report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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