Oil train derails with fiery explosions

A fireball goes up Monday at the site of an oil train derailment 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.

A fireball goes up Monday at the site of an oil train derailment 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.

CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) — Authorities urged residents to evacuate a small North Dakota town Monday night after a mile-long train carrying crude oil derailed outside of town, shaking residents with a series of explosions that sent flame and black smoke skyward.

The Cass County sheriff’s office said it was “strongly recommending” people in the town of Casselton and anyone living 5 miles to the south and east evacuate. A shelter has been set up in Fargo, which is about 25 miles away. Casselton has about 2,400 residents.

The sheriff’s office said the National Weather Service was forecasting a shift in the weather that would push the plume of smoke down, which could increase the risk of potential health hazards.

The BNSF Railway Co. train left the tracks around 2:30 p.m. Monday, and as many as 10 cars caught fire. No one was hurt.

The cars were still burning as darkness fell, and authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.

Authorities hadn’t yet been able to untangle exactly how the derailment happened, but a second train carrying grain was involved. 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 about a half-mile away, said he heard explosions and drove as close as about two city blocks to the fire, which erupted on a day when temperatures were below zero.

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