Huge fireball after N.D. trains hauling oil derail

8:56 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
  • A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment Monday, Dec 30, 2013, in Casselton, N.D. The train carrying crude oil derailed near Casselton Monday afternoon. Several explosions were reported as some cars on the mile-long train caught fire. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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CASSELTON, N.D. (USA TODAY) -- A small North Dakota city was being evacuated Monday night after a two-train derailment caused several oil tankers to explode and burn, authorities said.

A westbound train carrying grain jumped the tracks about 2:10 p.m. CT (3:10 p.m. ET) just west of Casselton and crashed into an eastbound train hauling oil, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokeswoman said. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

No injuries were reported among the train crews.

An estimated 10 cars of the 106-car oil train were on fire, and authorities said they would let them burn out. Train operators uncoupled about 80 cars and moved them away from the fire.

After a partial, precautionary evacuation of about 300 residents, shifting winds early in the evening prompted the Cass County Sheriff's Office to recommend that the entire town of 2,300 people leave, along with anyone within a five-mile radius, the Fargo-based Inforum newspaper reported.

Residents within a two-mile radius were warned earlier in the day to stay inside. One resident about a half-mile from the derailment told KVLY-TV she could see large flames. Smoke could be seen 15 miles away.

Casselton, population 2,300, is the hometown of the state's current governor, Jack Dalrymple, and four predecessors.

With the development of the massive Bakken formation, North Dakota is now one of nation's top oil states. In October, nearly 1 million barrels were produced.

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