A Quebec train fire rages on in Lac-Megantic more than 24 hours after it started, leaving officials worried there could still be more explosions.
The fire was sparked early Saturday morning as a driverless train carrying crude oil rolled down a track and became derailed, staring a massive fire that consumed much of the small town of Lac-Megantic. The Quebec train fire so far has left one person dead, with officials expecting the toll to rise.
Fifty tankers caught fire in the blast, setting several buildings ablaze and forcing up to 2,000 people from their homes. As Saturday turned to Sunday officials worried that more explosions could still come, as the crude oil spilled into storm sewers and oozed up through manholes in the street.
“There are still wagons which we think are pressurized. We’re not sure because we can’t get close, so we’re working on the assumption that all the cars were pressurized and could explode. That’s why progress is slow and tough,” local fire chief Denis Lauzon told Reuters.
The death toll from the Quebec train fire is pegged at one but has been difficult for Lac-Megantic officials to estimate. While the rail line’s operator — Montreal, Maine & Atlantic — reported “a number of fatalities and injuries,” police said there are duplicates on the list of missing persons, complicating efforts.
The fire consumed much of the downtown area of Lac-Megantic, an area with a concentration of bars that becomes busy on weekend nights in the summer.
“There was a bar in the area open at the time of the accident. We know from the witnesses, that some of them were able to get out and escape the fire, others, they were with people that are still missing. We don’t know what happened to them,” Sgt. Gregory Gomez del Prado of the Quebec Provincial Police told NBC News.
Officials say the Quebec train fire is not the only hazard for Lac-Megantic. A large amount of fuel has also spilled into the Chaudiere River.