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Fires Finally Dwindling Days After Illinois Oil Train Derailment

BNSF Railway said in a statement it anticipates its mainline track will become operational again Monday.
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/ Source: Reuters

Firefighters were still working Sunday to extinguish the last of a series of fires that erupted when a BNSF Railway train loaded with crude oil derailed two days ago in a rural area south of Galena, Illinois, a local official said. The incident marked the latest in a series of derailments in North America involving trains hauling crude oil, heightening focus on rail safety.

Nobody was injured in the fiery Thursday wreck, in which 21 cars of a 105-car BNSF train that originated in North Dakota derailed about 3 miles outside Galena, a town of just more than 3,000 near the border with Wisconsin. Five of the 103 cars packed with Bakken crude oil caught fire, sending plumes of black smoke and fireballs over the area, city and company officials said.

By Sunday, one fire was still burning and crews were building a temporary road and platform over marshy land surrounding the site to haul away the damaged cars, Galena City Administrator Mark Moran told Reuters. BNSF said in a statement it anticipates its mainline track will become operational again Monday. BNSF, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said that the cause of the derailment was under investigation and that it has set up a claims center to help residents who may have suffered property damage or need temporary relocation.

The accident is the latest involving oil trains in the U.S. and Canada, including the derailment of a Canadian National Railway Co train earlier Saturday. The train went off the tracks in the northern Ontario community of Gogama, with the crew reporting a fire but no injuries. Another incident occurred in West Virginia three weeks ago.


— Reuters