N.D. town evacuated after train carting crude explodes in ‘giant fireball’

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Residents in a small town in North Dakota were told to pack and leave late Monday night after a train carting a shipment of crude oil crashed into another train, exploding and sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

Nobody was injured in the wreck, Sgt. Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported, in the Los Angeles Times.

Officials responded to a train derailment just outside Casselton, located about 20 miles from Fargo. Responders found that the train had actually struck another train, causing that one to derail, also.

“There was an explosion, where a car let loose and there was a giant fireball, hundreds of feet in the air,” said Assistant Chief Gary Lorenz of the City of Fargo Fire Department, in NBC News. “It’s burning very strong. … You can see the plume of smoke for 25 miles.”

The town’s 2,300 or so residents were evacuated, due to the smoke and potential for noxious fumes. Meanwhile, firefighters were standing by, waiting for an opportune moment to douse the flames and control the disaster.

“They can’t fight the fire due to the extremes of the explosion and high temperatures,” said one on-scene official, in the Los Angeles Times. “They’re just letting the oil burn off at this point.”

National Transportation Safety Board officials are on route to the scene.

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