IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Freight Train Carrying Oil Derails, Catches Fire in Illinois

The train, which derailed near the Mississippi River, consisted of 105 loaded cars, and all but two of those contained crude oil.

A train loaded with crude oil derailed, and some of its cars caught fire, in Illinois Thursday while travelling through a rural part of the state, authorities said. There were no injuries reported, but at least two of the 103 train cars carrying crude oil were set ablaze.

The train derailed at around 1:20 p.m. local time (2:20 p.m. ET) near Galena, a town of about 3,400 people in the northwestern part of the state near the Iowa border, BNSF Railway said in a statement. At least five of the train cars derailed, emergency officials said.

A voluntary evacuation area was established for a mile around the derailment. Out of 500 families in that area, only one chose to leave, Galena City Administrator Mark Moran told The Associated Press late Thursday.

The scene of the derailment is near the Mississippi River, and there is a concern that oil and other materials on the train may spill into the waterway, a spokesperson for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said. State and federal EPA officials were en route to the scene of the derailment Thursday afternoon.

BNSF on Thursday evening couldn’t immediately say how many train cars derailed, and said the cause of the accident was not yet known. The company said the train consisted of 105 loaded cars, and all but two of those contained crude oil; the other two were buffer cars loaded with sand. The company did not say how much oil was on the train.

The train was coming from North Dakota, BNSF said. The company did not say where the train was headed.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it was sending a team of investigators to the scene of the accident.

BNSF said it was taking steps to prevent any crude oil from spilling into waterways, and will conduct air monitoring. "Protection of the communities we serve, the safety of our employees and protection of the environment are our highest priorities. We are guided by these priorities as we respond to this situation," BNSF said in a statement.

Smoke rises from the scene of a train derailment near Galena, Illinois, Thursday. The train was carrying crude oil, and at least two train cars caught fire, authorities said.TH Media


— Phil Helsel