Tankers carrying ethanol start on fire after BNSF train derails in Raymond, Minnesota

Mar. 30—5:40 p.m. update:

Minnesota Highway 23 remains closed at Raymond, from Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1, due to the BNSF Railway derailment and fire on the Marshall Subdivision line southwest of Raymond.

The highway will remain closed to allow local responders, rail inspectors and cleanup crews to continue their work, which could take into the week end.

Traffic is detoured to Kandiyohi County Road 1, Highway 7, and Chippewa County Road 1.

2:45 p.m. update: The Willmar Area Community Foundation activated the Willmar Area Response Fund to help those who have been displaced due to the train derailment. The foundation is working with other local agencies to disseminate charitable funds.

The foundation also is prepared to offer their expertise in disaster philanthropy once the active emergency phase has ended, considering uncertainties in short- and long-term needs, according to a news release from the foundation.

A gift via credit card may be made online at

www.communitygiving.org/donate.

Select "Willmar Area Response Fund" from the dropdown menu.

Checks may be sent to the Willmar Area Community Foundation, 1601 E. Highway 12, Suite 9, Willmar MN 56201. Please specify "Willmar Area Response Fund" on the memo line.

1:10 p.m. update: Gov. Tim Walz traveled to Raymond to survey the site of the derailment, meeting with residents and offering the state's full support.

Walz is coordinating with the United States Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"I am immensely grateful for the swift, coordinated response between local state, and national partners to ensure the immediate safety of the Raymond community," Walz said in a news release. "The state's multi-agency emergency response team will continue working on the ground to ensure health and safety. This incident has highlighted the critical need to invest in rail safety and the state's emergency management response to prevent incidents like this from happening again."

12:20 p.m. update: The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office in a noon update confirmed the evacuation order has been lifted in Raymond, and residents may return home. Sheriff Eric Tollefson in the release said there is no impact to the groundwater.

There will be road detours in the area for the time being. The main track remains blocked and the cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

11:20 a.m. update: Raymond residents who had evacuated were advised they could return to their homes as of 11 a.m. Thursday. The announcement was made by Matt Garland, BNSF vice president of operations, during a news conference in nearby Prinsburg. Gov. Tim Walz and others spoke.

"When something happens, your neighbors are there," Walz said while speaking at the Prinsburg church that served as an emergency shelter for evacuees.

The Central Community Christian School had served as a shelter immediately after the 1 a.m. report of the derailment, and residents were later moved to the church for breakfast.

It is not yet known when Minnesota Highway 23 will reopen near the derailment site. That is expected to be determined after the National Transportation Safety Board arrives.

10:31 a.m. update: Raymond residents and businesses may contact the BNSF Claim Line at 1-866-243-4784. BNSF requests callers leave their name and contact information and someone will follow up.

10:30 a.m. update:

10:15 a.m. update: Heavy equipment is currently being delivered by a third party to the Raymond derailment scene to assist BNSF Railway to address the derailment wreckage, according to scanner traffic.

10 a.m. update: State Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, is encouraging those interested in helping community members impacted by the Raymond train derailment to visit

www.communitygiving.org/donate

and select "Willmar Area Response Fund" from the drop-down menu to provide a financial donation to help those in need during this difficult time.

9:45 a.m. update: Some Raymond residents who were evacuated early Thursday are still waiting in the commons area of Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prinsburg. The governor was speaking there this morning.

9:30 a.m. update: Approximately 22 rail cars — carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup — are reported to be derailed, according to a post minutes ago on the BNSF Railway Twitter account. Four cars are reported on fire.

There are no other hazardous materials on the train, according to the post, and there have been no injuries.

"BNSF field personnel are onsite to assess the derailment site and are working closely with local first responders," the tweet reads. "... The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available. The cause of the incident is under investigation."

The railway also provided a contact for assistance for residents and businesses impacted by the incident: 866-243-4784.

9:15 a.m. update: The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office in a Facebook post said officials at the local, state and federal level are working to determine when families can return to their homes.

"We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all the volunteer fire and EMS departments for their assistance thus far and to everyone else who has transported, sheltered and fed those folks displaced from their homes," the post reads.

8:50 a.m. update: The Minnesota Department of Public Safety in a Facebook post said initial reports suggest eight cars were directly involved in the derailment — four containing corn syrup and four containing ethanol. BNSF reported that the ethanol caught fire.

There are no requests for hazardous materials teams, but the State Fire Marshal's Office has sent a fire service specialist to provide additional water to help extinguish the fire.

8:40 a.m. update: The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office on its Facebook page has confirmed the earlier report from U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that there have been no injuries as a result of the crash or emergency response.

According to the Sheriff's Office, BNSF specialists are on scene and continued mitigation is occurring.

Gov. Tim Walz is on his way, and will meet this morning with residents and offer the state's full support. The governor has been briefed by Buttigieg, according to a news release from Walz's office.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Interim Director Kevin Reed, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson and Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger are also expected to visit the site.

RAYMOND

— Several tanker cars carrying ethanol started on fire early Thursday after a BNSF train derailed on the western edge of Raymond.

Residents within a half-mile were evacuated, and an emergency site was established at the Central Minnesota Christian School in nearby Prinsburg for residents with nowhere else to go, according to a news release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office.

The tankers were determined to be carrying a form of ethanol, and others carried corn syrup liquid. Fire departments from Raymond and numerous area departments responded. The call to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office Communication Center was made at about 1 a.m. Thursday.

The Twitter account of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said no injuries or fatalities have been reported and that the Federal Rail Administration is on the ground. "We are tracking closely as more details emerge" and will be involved in the investigation, the tweet said.

According to Sheriff Eric Tollefson's news release, issued about 4 a.m. Thursday, the site remains active as the fire is being contained.

No travel is advised to the city of Raymond.

Minnesota Highway 23 is temporarily closed from Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says traffic is being detoured on local roads by flaggers. Drivers are asked to take alternate routes until the roadway has cleared.

The location of the emergency evacuation shelter is expected to be moved later this morning to the Unity Church in Prinsburg.

The MACCRAY School District, which serves Raymond, Clara City and Maynard, announced on its website that school would be in session today at the central campus in Clara City. Bus pickup in Raymond was limited to two locations due to the derailment, and any Raymond students displaced by the derailment would be excused from classes.