Residents have been evacuated after a 40-car train carrying hazardous substances derailed and caught fire in the early hours. Locals in Raymond, Minnesota, were forced out of their properties after the freight train careered off the tracks at around 1 am on Thursday morning. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe train was carrying ethanol and corn syrup on around 14 of the carriages, which is what sparked the fire.
According to the Daily Mail, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has confirmed that he is watching the situation ‘closely’ and has spoken out about the incident after being accused of not addressing a similar incident in Ohio last month.
Ohio is suing the Norfolk Southern railroad company over the devastating freight derailment which exposed the village of East Palestine to massive levels of toxic material.
There have been no reported injuries in Raymond confirmed yet, and authorities have set up a one-mile perimeter for safety around the site. It came hours after another Burlington Northern Santa Fe train came off the tracks on Wednesday morning near a grain elevator in Hettinger.
There were no hazardous materials on board, as the cars were transporting grain, and there were no injuries. However one vehicle struck and damaged a building at the elevator site, but there was no other property damage – unlike the blaze which broke out in Minnesota.
Locals in Raymond have been warned not to travel to the site as officials continue to battle the blaze. Secretary Buttigieg told CNN: ‘I have been in touch with the Governor. We have personnel on the ground. ‘The reason that we are pushing so hard on railroad safety is to make sure there are fewer of these incidents. ‘The reason that there are fewer than there used to be in the past is regulation and enforcement.
‘But there’s still far too many, and this happens more often than I think most Americans realize this is exactly why we have called on congress to create tougher fines and penalties and more authorities.’ Nearby Highway 23 has been shut off in both directions between Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1.
Raymond Fire Department announced on Facebook following the incident: ‘The town is being evacuated for precautionary measures. Residents may go to Prinsburg School for shelter.’
BNSF, one of the largest freight railroad networks in the country, said they were investigating the cause of the incident that involved one of their trains.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘BNSF field personnel are responding to assess the derailment site and will be working closely with local first responders.’