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Homes evacuated after train carrying ethanol derails, catches fire in Minnesota

Mar 30, 2023, 7:30 AM

A train hauling ethanol derailed Thursday morning in Raymond, Minnesota, igniting several rail cars...

A train hauling ethanol derailed Thursday morning in Raymond, Minnesota, forcing nearby residents to evacuate. (WCCO)

(WCCO)

Originally Published: 30 MAR 23 06:09 ET
Updated: 30 MAR 23 09:05 ET

(CNN) — A train hauling ethanol derailed Thursday morning in Raymond, Minnesota, igniting several rail cars and forcing nearby residents to evacuate, officials said.

Preliminary information suggests 14 of the train’s 40 cars were carrying hazardous material, “including ethanol, which was released — leading to a fire,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Thursday.

The train was carrying mixed freight, including ethanol and corn syrup, said Lena Kent, general director of public affairs for BNSF Railway.

Ethanol is a highly flammable chemical. Exposure can lead to coughing, dizziness, the feeling of burning eyes, drowsiness and unconsciousness.

The derailment happened around 1 a.m., the Raymond Fire Department posted on Facebook. Homes within a half-mile of the derailment were evacuated, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office said.

“There have been no injuries as a result of the crash or emergency response,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook. “BNSF specialists are on scene and continued mitigation is occurring.”

The main track is blocked, and an estimated time for reopening the line was not available.

“The City of Raymond is not accessible to the public, so Unity Church in Prinsburg is willing to be a drop off location for bottled water and snacks for the firemen,” the wife of a fire department member said, according to the department’s Facebook page. “These brave souls have been working hard for hours already, and have several hours of work ahead for them.”

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed a nearby highway due to the derailment and blaze, the fire department said.

The derailment happened nearly two months after another train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio — igniting a dayslong inferno, spewing poisonous fumes into the air and killing thousands of fish.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Homes evacuated after train carrying ethanol derails, catches fire in Minnesota