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Residents allowed to return home after fiery train derailment in western Minnesota

Officials address environmental concerns after train fire 01:53

RAYMOND, Minn. --  Residents are now allowed back home after an early morning train derailment prompted an evacuation of the small town of Raymond in Kandiyohi County Thursday. 

In a statement, BNSF Railway said approximately 22 cars containing ethanol and corn syrup derailed around 1 a.m. Four of the derailed cars started on fire, fueled by the ethanol.

BNSF said there were no injuries reported, and there's no concern for air or water contamination. 

"Groundwater is unaffected by the incident, and the air monitoring indicates no detectable levels of concern," BNSF said in a statement. 

There is no estimated time for reopening the rail line. 

Part of the town near the crash site was evacuated to a school in nearby Prinsburg. Some residents are also at a church in Prinsburg. As of 11 a.m., residents were allowed to return to their homes. 

There are road detours in the area of the incident. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Highway 23 is closed from Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1 because of the derailment and fire.

Raymond's assistant fire chief said crews are now letting the ethanol burn out after spraying thousands of gallons of water on the cars.

Raymond is a town of about 800 residents, about two hours west of the Twin Cities and 14 miles southwest of Willmar.

Follow live updates below. 


Gov. Walz surveys derailment, pledges full state support

Gov. Tim Walz provides updates to Raymond community following train derailment 08:53

Gov. Tim Walz is at the derailment site Thursday and is pledging the state's "full support."

Walz says he's coordinating with federal and state agencies to protect the health and safety of the Raymond community. 

"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. "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."   

Walz added that his proposed budget makes "significant investments" in rail safety, including $600,000 for rail safety inspectors. 

By WCCO Staff

Evacuation order officially lifted

Authorities in Kandiyohi County say the evacuation order in Raymond has officially been lifted.

Earlier, BNSF Railway told residents it was safe to return to their homes.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office said there is no impact to groundwater in the area.

Raymond evacuation order lifted by WCCO - CBS Minnesota on Scribd
By WCCO Staff

Local officials have no say on what trains carry through states

Following the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine earlier this year, in which train cars exploded into a fireball and a significant amount of toxic chemicals were released, CBS Pittsburgh conducted a study about just how much say state officials have over what trains carry through their territory.

The answer: Not much at all.

Leaders raise safety questions about trains carrying toxic chemicals 04:27
By WCCO Staff

BNSF says residents will be able to return home at 11 a.m.

By WCCO Staff

Environmental Protection Agency responds to scene

EPA crews have been on the scene of the derailment site in western Minnesota, providing "air monitoring at and around the site and throughout the community."

Here's the full statement:

On March 30, at 1 a.m., a BNSF train derailed in Raymond, Minnesota. Four cars containing ethanol, a highly flammable product, ruptured, caught fire and continue to burn. Four additional cars containing ethanol may also release. The local fire department is currently the lead for the response and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. The evacuation remains in place.

EPA arrived on scene at 6:30 a.m. to provide air monitoring at and around the site and throughout the community. EPA's number one priority is - and will always be - the health and safety of communities. EPA will continue to coordinate with local, state and federal agencies to ensure the safety of residents and first responders in and around Raymond.

By WCCO Staff

In the last 5 years, there's been 60 train derailments in MN

Authorities are at the scene of a train derailment in western Minnesota Thursday morning, where ethanol and corn syrup are burning, but no injuries have been reported.

It's one of many derailments in Minnesota over the last five years. Click here to see the numbers. 

By WCCO Staff

Statement from BNSF Railway:

By WCCO Staff

Displaced residents receiving emergency services inside church

Steven Zwart, senior pastor at Unity Christian Reform Church, said he was notified of an imminent evacuation around 1:30 a.m. Originally about 150 people stayed at a school overnight, but were transferred to church later in the morning. 

Since then, about 20 to 25 volunteers have shown up at the church, Zwart said, serving breakfast and planning meals for the rest of the day.

"Anybody that needs help, we're here today," Zwart said.

Zwart added that his phone has been ringing all morning from businesses and grocery stores in the community reaching out to offer help.

Read the full story here.

By WCCO Staff

State Rep. Dave Baker in "constant contact" with officials

State Rep. Dave Baker, whose district includes Raymond, released the following statement Thursday morning.

"First of all, I am grateful that this tragic situation has not resulted in any injuries or fatalities," Baker said. "We all owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders who reacted quickly to evacuate the area and made sure residents could be moved to safety. I would also like to thank the generous residents of Prinsburg and the Central Minnesota Christian School for stepping up and making sure that the evacuated had a place to go. Moving forward, I remain in constant contact with city, county, state, and federal officials to make sure that the community has the support they need."

By WCCO Staff

Rep. Michelle Fischbach's team "on the ground" at derailment site

Rep. Michelle Fischbach, whose district includes Raymond, released the following statement Thursday morning.

"Thanks to the quick work by first responders assisting the Raymond community, I am told the fire is under control and there have been no injuries," she said. "My team is on the ground with local officials and will work to assist in every way we can."

By WCCO Staff

Recent train derailments across the US

The derailment in Raymond is the latest incident, but similar events have taken place across the country recently.

Here's a look at recent derailments in the U.S. 

By WCCO Staff

Gov. Walz says he's on his way to derailment site

By WCCO Staff

Fire crews letting ethanol burn out

Raymond's assistant fire chief said crews are now letting the ethanol burn out after spraying thousands of gallons of water on the cars that caught fire in the derailment.

By Pauleen Le

MnDOT: Highway 23 to be closed until Friday night

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Highway 23 is expected to be closed through Friday because of the derailed train.

The highway is closed between 160th Avenue Southeast and 128th Street Southwest.

By WCCO Staff

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg: FRA responding to Raymond derailment

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said the Federal Railroad Administration is responding to the train derailment in Raymond, Minnesota.

"We are tracking closely as more details emerge and will be involved in investigation," Buttigieg said.

By WCCO Staff

Shelter saw roughly 150 evacuees overnight

Central Minnesota Christian School, which served as a shelter for evacuees from Raymond, said roughly 150 people stayed overnight after the train derailment.

About 100 are still there as of 6 a.m. Thursday. The school is working to transfer evacuees to Unity Church in Prinsburg so that school can begin.

MACCRAY Public Schools, which includes Raymond, said school will be in session on Thursday, but Raymond students who have been displaced will be excused from classes.

There will be two pickup spots for Raymond students taking the bus: First and Fifth streets, and Second and Fourth streets.

"We wish all of our family and friends from the Raymond Community the best, and we are greatly appreciative of all the emergency services that have come to keep everyone safe," the district said.

By WCCO Staff
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