Authorities have urged residents to evacuate a town in North Dakota after a 1.6-kilometre train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.
The Cass County sheriff’s office said on Monday night it was “strongly recommending” that the 2400 residents of Casselton and anyone living 8km to the south and east evacuate.
The sheriff’s office said the National Weather Service was forecasting a shift in the weather that would push down a plume of smoke from the train wreck, which could increase the risk to health.
The BNSF Railway train left the tracks about 2:30pm on Monday, and as many as 10 cars caught fire. No one was hurt.
Authorities said a second train carrying grain had been involved in the incident.
BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the train carrying grain derailed first, then knocked several cars of the oil train off adjoining tracks.
Ryan Toop, who lives near the accident scene, said he heard explosions and drove as close as about two city blocks to the fire.
“I rolled down the window, and you could literally keep your hands warm,” Toop said.
Another witness, Hannah Linnard, 13, said: “I looked out the window and all of a sudden the train car tipped over and the whole thing was engulfed in flames and it just exploded.
“The oil car tipped over on to the grain car.”
The railway tracks pass through the middle of Casselton, and Cass County Sheriff’s Sergeant Tara Morris said it was “a blessing it didn’t happen within the city”.
The train had more than 100 cars, and about 80 of them have been moved away from the site.
Morris said it could take up to 12 hours before authorities could get close to the fire.