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Train carrying crude oil derails near Casselton, N.D.

A fire from a train derailment burns uncontrollably as seem from a mile away Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, west of Casselton, N.D. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/Michael Vosburg2 / 2

CASSELTON – At least seven oil train cars have burst into flames here after a BNSF train carrying crude oil derailed and was then hit by another train.

A 106-car long BNSF train carrying crude oil was headed eastbound when it derailed just west of Casselton at about 2:10 p.m., said Amy McBeth, a BNSF spokeswoman.

Then, a fire was started when another train collided with the derailed train, Cass County Sgt. Dean Haaland said. Seven cars carrying oil had exploded as of 3:30 p.m., Haaland said, and crews are now working to separate as many of the remaining oil cars as possible.

McBeth said no crew members reported injuries after the accident. Thick, black smoke could be seen from around 15 miles out-side of town.

The train was headed eastbound, but McBeth said she didn’t know the train’s destination or its point of origin.

City Auditor Sheila Klevgard sent out an email to Casselton residents around 3 p.m., advising residents to stay in their homes as “there is a Hazmat incident west of town.” She also advised residents to not call 911 or the sheriff’s office for updates.

Local and county law enforcement also blocked off all traffic within a mile of the fiery crash.

Eva Fercho, a Casselton homeowner, said she noticed thick, black smoke at about 2 p.m.

“The sky is totally black from smoke,” Fercho said.

She said that she heard two explosions not long after she saw the smoke.

“I could almost feel the house shake in that (second explosion),” Fercho said. “It was loud.”

Brandy Pyle, the former city auditor who lives in a family farm west of town, was about half a mile from the accident.

She said the accident occurred in an open field about a mile and half from the nearby Tharaldson Ethanol Plant, and that it didn’t seem like the plant was in danger.

“All I can think is, thank God it didn’t happen in town,” Pyle said.

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Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
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