In the early hours of Thursday, a freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed near a small town in Minnesota, catching fire and forcing residents to evacuate the area.
Around 1 am CT, a train operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway derailed and caught fire near Raymond, a town with a population of less than 800. The residents were quickly ordered to evacuate.
According to a press release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, the train was carrying “a form of ethanol” and “a corn syrup liquid.” About 22 cars reportedly derailed.
“Fire departments from Raymond and numerous area departments responded as several of the derailed tankers started on fire and were determined to be carrying a form of ethanol and others with a corn syrup liquid,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
UPDATE: Raymond Assist. Fire Chief says they’ve along with crews from neighboring communities have sprayed thousands and thousands of gallons of water on @BNSFRailway 22-car train derailment. Cars were carrying ethanol & corn syrup. They’re now letting the ethanol burn out @WCCO pic.twitter.com/PEoo95gHy5
— Pauleen Le (@PauleenLe) March 30, 2023
“An evacuation area of 1/2 mile was established around the crash site and law enforcement officers and other EMS assisted with that evacuation,” the statement continued. “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.”
As responders try to contain the fire, police have said that “no travel is advised to the city of Raymond.”
U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) praised the effective, quick response to the scene by first responders. In a statement, she said, “Thanks to the quick work by first responders assisting the Raymond community, I am told the fire is under control and there have been no injuries.”
“My team is on the ground with local officials and will work to assist in every way we can,” Fischbach added.
BNSF also issued a statement on the incident, saying, “Approximately 22 cars carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup are reported to be derailed.”
“BNSF field personnel are responding to assess the derailment site and will be working closely with local first responders,” they said, adding that the “main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available.”
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has said that he is “closely” monitoring the situation, likely trying to avoid backlash similar to what he received after being accused of ignoring a disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio last month.