Freight train derails in Canada near Maine; fire at scene

Emergency vehicles at site in New Brunswick, Canada, near border with Maine, of Jan. 7, 2014 derailment of several cars of freight train; cars were carrying crude oil and propane, and there was a fire at the scene WAGM-TV

PLASTER ROCK, New Brunswick -- A freight train carrying crude oil and propane derailed and caught fire in a sparsely populated region of New Brunswick, leading to the evacuation of about two dozen nearby homes, authorities said.

The derailment site is fairly close to the Maine border.

Sharon DeWitt, emergency measures coordinator for the nearby community of Plaster Rock, said it's unclear how big the fire is. "We have evacuated homes in the immediate area," she said.

A spokeswoman for Ambulance New Brunswick said no casualties were transported from the site.

Canadian National Railway spokesman Jim Feeny told CBS News 45 homes had been evacuated.

He said the regularly scheduled eastbound freight train was headed to Moncton from Central Canada when it ran into trouble around 7 p.m. about 93 miles northwest of Fredericton, in northwest New Brunswick.

The train's engineer and conductor, the only people on the train, weren't hurt, he said.

Feeny told CBS News the train had 4 locomotives and 122 cars, and 15 cars and one locomotive derailed. He said 4 cars were carrying propane and another 4 were carrying crude oil.

Feeny said there is a fire in the area, but it's unclear what's burning – content that spilled or that's still in the cars. The fire was being allowed to burn at least until morning.

DeWitt said the train left the tracks about 3 miles from the village in a wooded area. She said there is one road near the site, which includes a number of homes.

There were unconfirmed reports of an explosion, but DeWitt said she was not aware on any blast at the site.

CNR is working with authorities from Canada and the U.S. to determine the cause of the derailment, Feeny added.

In July, 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train carrying crude oil derailed. Another oil train from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Alabama in November, causing no deaths but releasing an estimated 749,000 gallons of oil from 26 tanker cars, adding to concerns about the safety of such shipments.

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