Raymond residents were allowed to return to their homes after a train of ethanol and corn syrup derailed early Thursday morning and caught fire, leading to hundreds of evacuations.
It happened around 1 am on the west coast of a nearly 800-seat town, located about 15 miles south of Willmar and about two hours west of Twin Cities.
A statement from BNSF Railway says no one was injured when the 22 cars derailed and the company now has field personnel on site working with local first responders to mitigate the incident.
However, after the car derailed, several carriers of ethanol, a highly flammable liquid, caught fire and remained on fire for about noon. AX 5 captured aerial footage of the scene throughout the morning.
Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Tolleffson said knowing what’s on the train helps officers make quick decisions.
“We knew very quickly what was on the train and we knew there was no great danger,” said Sheriff Tollefson. “But they recommended evacuating the area that was a mile and a half from the fire, and all of Raymond.
Authorities knocked on hundreds of doors overnight to evacuate residents and a site was set up at the Christian Reformed Church near Prinsburg. That is where the local authorities are also required to provide any food or water to the community members, and a A site for financial donations has also been created online under the Willmar Area Response Fund. Additionally, the red cross Responded to the needs of shelter residents and responded to the emergency response.
About 150 people were there just after 7 a.m. Thursday. Evacuees previously gathered at a Christian school in central Minnesota, also in Prinsburg.
The evacuation order was officially lifted around 11:45 am, allowing residents to return home.
RELATED: Minnesota officials respond to train derailment that caused evacuation in Raymond
Gov. Tim Walz visited the site Thursday morning and spoke at a press conference alongside BNSF officials and local authorities at the church. The governor noted that the country is ready to help and responded that various public institutions have already been added. He also said that the state is in contact with federal officials and youd’ spoke US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
BNSF Vice President of Operations Matt Garland said the company’s experts deemed the area safe but expected to take at least a few days to clear the crash site. The company’s CEO, Katie Farmer, also spoke and said BNSF was responsible for the derailment.
“Let us know this, we will be fully responsible for it and we will remain here until this is cleared up,” said the farmer. “Certainly, I think we’re hearing more about derailments in East Palestine, and 99.99% of all dangerous goods will be moved to their destination without incident. … So we are very safe, the movement of dangerous things and of all things is most effective.
Residents impacted by the derailment are encouraged to call BNSF for assistance at 866-243-4784.
The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office says detours will remain in place around the site as local responders and BNSF personnel continue to work to mitigate the incident. It is not yet clear when the main track will reopen or what caused the derailment, which remains under investigation.
The Minnesota Department of Public Health stated Initial reports suggest eight cars were directly involved in the derailment, four containing corn syrup and four containing ethanol. The department adds that there are no requests for hazmat teams at this time, but the State Fire Marshal has sent a fire technician to help put out the fire.
The Homeland Security Board says His team investigating the derailment is expected to arrive at the scene Thursday afternoon.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tweeted that members of its crew were also responding to the incident.
Rep. Baker shared this post after the derailment:
“First of all, I am thankful that this catastrophic situation did not result in disasters or massacres.”. We are all thankful to our first responders who quickly moved to evacuate the area and ensure the residents were able to be moved to safety. We would also like to thank the generous residents of Prinsburg and the Central Minnesota Christian School for stepping in and making sure we have an empty space. Moving forward, I will continue to be in constant communication with the state, county, state, and federal government to ensure that the community has the resources it needs.”
Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R-MN 7th District) also released a statement:
“Thanks to the quick work of the first responders to help Raymond meet, I’m told the fire is under control and there were no injuries. My team is on the ground with local officials and will work to help in any way we can.”
State Senator Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) released a statement that can be read below;
“Thank you to the first responders who acted quickly to address the situation and to ensure that everyone in the Raymond community and surrounding area is safe and valued.” We must also acknowledge and thank the communities and local institutions that immediately intervened so that every person who is pushed has a place to resolve the situation. I am thinking of going out there today, wanting to provide some necessary help.
This is a developing story, and updates will continue to be provided on air and online as more information becomes available.
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