WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 30, 2013, 02:34 PM

UPDATE: Train carrying crude oil derails near Casselton; Cass County Sheriff's Office recommends evacuation of Casselton (w/ video)

CASSELTON – The train that derailed about a mile west of town here was eastbound carrying crude oil, according to a BNSF spokeswoman.

By: WDAY Staff Reports, Erik Burgess, INFORUM, WDAY

CASSELTON – The train that derailed about a mile west of town here was eastbound carrying crude oil, according to a BNSF spokeswoman.

Emergency and fire-fighting crews are respond-ing to the derailment, which Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF, said occurred at around 2:10 p.m.

McBeth said no crew members on the train were injured during the acci-dent. The train was 106 cars long and headed east-bound, she said.

McBeth said she didn’t know the train’s destination or how many cars derailed.

Sgt. Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said deputies have been dispatched to the accident, but she said at around 2:40 p.m. that they hadn’t arrived yet and so don’t know the severity of the accident.

Thick, black smoke could be seen from around 15 miles outside of town.

City Auditor Sheila Klevgard sent out an email to Casselton residents around 3 p.m., advising residents to stay in their homes as “there is a Haz-mat incident west of town.” She also advised residents to not call 911 or the sheriff’s office for updates.

Eva Fercho, a Casselton homeowner, said she noticed thick, black smoke at about 2 p.m., and that it appears the smoke and possibly the derailment is coming from near an ethanol plant on the west side of town.

“The sky is totally black from smoke,” Fercho said.

She said that she heard two explosions not long after she saw the smoke.

“I could almost feel the house shake in that (second explosion),” Fercho said. “It was loud.”

Officials have issued a code red, meaning everyone should stay indoors.

The initial accident happened around two this afternoon that's when a train carrying oil derailed.

Then another train passing by hit the oil car causing the explosion.

Loren Parks/Witnessed Explosions: "So we're coming in on 94 heading east maybe doing 75-80 mph. And as we come underneath these clouds it was almost like night time. Ya know. It was just dark. The entire sky is just blacked out, you can't see anything. So we come in digging on these side streets trying to get a closer view. It was a pretty surreal feeling."

Soon more and more oil cars like this will be crossing ND. Up to 90 percent of oil production will be transported by train.

New information on our top story - the train derailment and fire west of Casselton.

It continues to burn, the American Red Cross has set up a shelter for the residents who have been evacuated.

Discovery Middle School in Fargo will be used to house people.

The Red Cross is preparing to take in 100 people at the shelter but has the capacity to house 500.

The shelter is equipped with cots, food and other items for displaced families.