Fiery derailment of train carrying ethanol prompts evacuations in Minnesota

Fiery train derailment
A train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire in Raymond, Minn.
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A train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire in Minnesota early Thursday, and nearby residents were ordered to evacuate their homes, authorities said.

The BNSF train derailed in the town of Raymond, around 100 miles west of Minneapolis, about 1 a.m., according to a statement from Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Tollefson.

BNSF said in a statement that 22 cars derailed, with four catching fire, but that no injuries were reported.


“The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available,” according to the statement from BNSF spokesperson Lena Kent. “The cause of the incident is under investigation.”

Homes in an area half a mile around the site were evacuated, according to Tollefson, and residents were taken to a shelter in nearby Prinsburg.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN that about 14 cars were carrying hazardous materials. BNSF said the only hazardous material on board was ethanol.

“We’ve been in touch with the governor,” Buttigieg said, and Environmental Protection Agency officials were en route to the site, “given the hazardous material situation.”

The National Transportation Safety Board announced a special investigation into rail operator Norfolk Southern.

March 7, 2023

Buttigieg said he has received no reports of deaths or injuries from the derailment.

Railroad safety has been in the spotlight nationally ever since last month’s fiery derailment of a Norfolk Southern train near East Palestine, Ohio. Roughly half of that town of about 5,000 people near the Pennsylvania border had to be evacuated after officials decided to release and burn toxic chemicals.

Federal regulators and members of Congress have proposed reforms they want railroads to make to prevent future derailments.