Train Derailed, Evacuation Issued in Casselton, N.D.

The 2,400 residents of Casselton, ND are being urged to evacuate their homes in the wake of a fiery train derailment about a mile outside of town. The train transporting crude oil went off the tracks, causing large explosions and a huge fire to blot out the sky in this quaint area of Eastern North Dakota.

A westbound train carrying grain jumped the tracks about 2:10 p.m. CT just west of Casselton, near Fargo, and crashed into an eastbound train hauling oil, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokeswoman said. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

After the initial blast, residents were put under a “code red” from the Sheriff’s Department, meaning that there was a Haz-Mat situation and that everyone should stay inside their homes.  As the call was made to let the fire burn itself out, and the air has become increasingly clogged with toxic fumes from the burning crude, authorities are now urging people in Casselton to evacuate their homes.  Emergency shelters have been set up in nearby Fargo.

Ten of the 100 cars on the train are reported to be on fire and still burning at the time of this post. Thankfully, there are no injuries being reported, but I’m asking readers to pray for the residents of Casselton and surrounding areas.  Bitterly cold temps are dipping to negative 20 degrees in the area, and this will complicate evacuation efforts.

North Dakota now comes in second in the nation for oil production behind Texas.  Ninety percent of crude is transported by rail and the number of crude oil carloads hauled by U.S. railroads surged from 10,840 in 2009 to a projected 400,000 this year.

On a personal note, I do not live very far from the site of this accident, and I drive right through the heart of Casselton every time I drive to western ND to visit my family.  It is a wonderful little town and my prayers are with all of the people that call it home.

For more info and updates visit, the Fargo Forum online here: Extra resources

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Train Derailed, Evacuation Issued in Casselton, N.D.