WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 30, 2013, 11:43 PM

The latest on the train derailment in Casselton

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) - New information on our top story - the train derailment and fire west of Casselton. It continues to burn Monday night.

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) - New information on our top story - the train derailment and fire west of Casselton.

It continues to burn tonight.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney is not ordering a mandatory evacuation but is urging residents of Casselton and others within a five mile radius of the city to leave the area due to the toxic plume of smoke.

As forecasted the wind has changed from the North and is now blowing from the West - authorities tell us the major concern now is that those toxins will descend upon the city.

Just minutes the state's department of health issued a health advisory for people with respiratory conditions in response to the fire.

Take a look as nearly eight hours have passed and this fire is still roaring out of control.

Hazmat, fire, police, every emergency crew from around the valley is pitching in to keep this town safe Monday night.

You'd have to see it, to believe this was real.

"Mushroom clouds, like a nuclear bomb went off."

Just a half mile from a town full of people.

Now standing outside to watch what you might only ever see on TV.

Loren Parks: "This is the first time I've ever seen something like this."

Loren Parks isn't from Casselton, a small town in North Dakota.

He was just passing by.

"I suppose I was 5-10 miles down the freeway and when I first saw it it kind of looked like clouds but I was like it seems way too low and as we got closer we could tell it was a fire."

The tiny town heard a massive boom around two o'clock in the afternoon.

Later learning a train carrying crude oil had derailed, then was hit by a second train causing the explosion.

Sending flames and smoke hundreds of feet in the air.

Parks had only one way of explaining what he saw.

Parks: "What would you call that, like a bomb maybe."

So far ten railcars have been engulfed with flames.

Sending a plume of smoke people can see for miles.

Parks: "As we come underneath these clouds it's almost like it was like night time you know, it was just dark."

Officials say the plume of smoke from the crude oil is most harmful within the first 48 hours and that’s why they’re calling for this evacuation.

Sheriff Paul Laney/Cass County: “The wind is supposed to change direction and start coming straight out of the west sometime later this evening before midnight. That causes is concerns because just being a half mile out it's going to put that plume right over the top of Casselton. On top of that and I'm not a weather guy so don't ask me a lot of the technical part of it but as understand there's a pressure system above it that's going to push the plume down not allow it to go up and out.”

If you're not able to find family or friends to stay with Discovery school has an emergency shelter set up.