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North Dakota Officials Call For Residents Evacuation After Crude Oil Train Car Derailment

By Rebeka Silva r.silva@hngn.com | Dec 30, 2013 10:58 PM EST

North Dakota
Smoke rises from scene of a derailed train near Casselton, North Dakota December 30, 2013. A latest report by the AFL-CIO labor federation shows that North Dakota led with the U.S. states in highest number of work casualties. (Photo : Reuters)

North Dakota officials were asking residents in Cass County to evacuate their homes on Monday after 10 railroad cars, some which were carrying crude oil, derailed and caused an explosion, Reuters reported.

Flames and black smoke took over the sky above Cass County and the Sheriff's office said it was "strongly recommending" residents of Casselton to evacuate and a shelter was set up in Fargo, about 25 miles away from town, according to Reuters.

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The National Weather Service forecasted a shift in temperature that could increase the risk of health hazards from the crude oil, Reuters reported.

The derailment occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Monday when one of the train cars carrying grain derailed and took about nine more cars with it, some contained crude oil which caused the explosions, Reuters reported. The BNSF Railway Co. train was carrying the oil and grain.

There were no reported injuries or casualties but the train cars were expected to continue burning for another 12 hours with fire fighters having to wait until it settles before getting close, Reuters reported.

Authorities have no exact reason for the derailment but an investigation is underway according to BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth, Reuters reported.

Resident Ryan Toop lives only half a mile away and heard the explosions as they occurred, Reuters reported. Toop said he drove as close as two blocks from the explosion.

"I rolled down the window, and you could literally keep your hands warm," Toop said of the heat in temperatures below freezing, Reuters reported.

Monday's derailment highlights an ongoing concern about crude oil being transported through railroads because of the consequences of a derailment, similar to what happened in Quebec in 2012 when a train from North Dakota carrying crude oil derailed and killed 47 people in the explosion, according to Reuters.

Cass County Sheriff's department Sgt. Tara Morris said it was "a blessing it didn't happen within the city," according to Reuters.

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