Evacuations lifted after dozens of train cars derailed near New Mexico state line, some carrying propane

Apr 28, 2024, 4:30 PM

In this photo provided by David Yellowhorse, a freight train carrying fuel derailed and caught fire...

In this photo provided by David Yellowhorse, a freight train carrying fuel derailed and caught fire, Friday, April 26, east of Lupton, Arizona, near the New Mexico-Arizona state line. Authorities closed Interstate 40 in both directions in the area, directing trucks and motorists to alternate routes.

Originally Published: 27 APR 24 13:13 ET
Updated: 28 APR 24 16:28 ET

(CNN) — Thirty-five rail cars of a train derailed in New Mexico Friday afternoon, prompting evacuations that lasted until Sunday and forcing a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 40 to close.

McKinley County Fire & Rescue was dispatched around 12:40 p.m. Friday after the train derailed and caught fire off Interstate 40 near the state line. Six of the derailed train cars were carrying propane, according to BNSF Railway.

Evacuation orders were issued for residents within a two-mile radius of the derailment and fire along the New Mexico state line with Arizona, according to an update from BNSF Railway. All evacuations were lifted Sunday, according to a Facebook post from McKinley County Fire & Rescue. Air monitoring at the site was ongoing Sunday and results do “not indicate any concern for air quality,” the agency said.

Interstate 40 – which was closed in both directions with traffic rerouted – was reopened Sunday.

“Westbound I-40 from mile marker 126 remains open to traffic. Both lanes from eastbound I-40 from mile marker 333 in Arizona is also open following Friday’s derailment fire,” the county’s fire and rescue said.

A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators are also expected to document the scene and examine the train and equipment involved in the derailment, the NTSB said.

BNSF said fire suppression assessments are ongoing at the site.

No injuries have been reported. BNSF says it is currently working with the residents displaced by the evacuations and will provide necessary lodging and accommodations.

“Along with all local public safety agencies, BNSF is committed to working within Unified Command while ensuring the community is safe and taken care of throughout the duration of the incident,” their release said.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg addressed the massive derailment in a social media post, saying, “We are coordinating across state, Tribal, and local agencies to ensure safety in the region. Please follow state and local guidance for detour information around I-40.”

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs also took to social media to react to the derailment.

“I am deeply concerned about the train derailment along the Arizona-New Mexico border and am monitoring the situation closely,” Hobbs wrote. “My administration is in contact with Secretary Buttigieg and the New Mexican government. As we learn more about the situation on the ground, the State of Arizona stands ready to deploy the resources necessary to keep our communities safe.”

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Evacuations lifted after dozens of train cars derailed near New Mexico state line, some carrying propane