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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 01, 2014, 09:26 PM

New Casselton derailment details; finding pieces of the puzzle

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) - Investigators now know the point on the tracks where a grain train derailed, causing an explosive collision with another train carrying crude oil.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) - Investigators now know the point on the tracks where a grain train derailed, causing an explosive collision with another train carrying crude oil.

They're still trying to figure out why, but do have some leads.

What we now know is that the derailment happened at a switch in the track; a device used to guide trains from one track to another.

But what federal investigators are really looking at now is a broken axle they found at the scene.

The flames are gone; the smoke has subsided, but the question remains… What caused this to happen just a half-mile from the town of Casselton, North Dakota?

Two days after a train hauling crude oil struck a derailed grain train, BNSF railway crews are cleaning up a mess of scorched cars and some oil-soaked soil.

In the meantime, the NTSB is investigating the cause of the accident. One possibility is a broken axle from one of the trains discovered at the scene.

Robert Sumwalt- NTSB Safety Board: "We want to know if it was the cause of the derailment or if it was broken during the derailment. We've tagged it as evidence."

The grain train went off the rails at a switch in the track, but investigators say there don't appear to be any issues with the track or signals.

They added that the collision happened very quickly after the derailment.

Sumwalt: "We think it was a very short time."

NTSB investigators say they are still in the early stages of this investigation. It wasn't until Tuesday night that the fire died down enough for them to get close.

They plan to interview BNSF crews Thursday.

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