Alberta Train Derailment Ignites Oil, Forces Evacuations [Video]

An Alberta train derailment forced residents to evacuate near Edmonton on Saturday. The Canadian train’s cargo, which includes oil and petroleum gas, ignited after all 13 of the train’s cars came off the tracks. No injuries are reported. Concerns over the safety of Canada’s railway system have come into question as this is the third major train accident in the country in less than four weeks.

According to RT, one of the train cars loaded with petroleum exploded, setting three of the other cargo cars on fire. First responders appeared on the scene to contain the blaze after reports came in around 1 am. Officials have declared a state of emergency after the Alberta train derailment and have asked residents of the nearby Gainford to voluntarily evacuate. Dozens have left their homes, reports RT.

Part of Highway 16 has been closed. Officials say traffic will have to use a detour until Monday. According to National Post, firefighters have been pulled off the fire. Because of the high risk nature of the Alberta train derailment, with several of the train cars leaking flammable fuels, officials will let the fire burn out on its own. They say it could take more than 24 hours for the blaze to run out of fuel. Residents could stay evacuated for up to 72 hours.

One local recalls the Alberta train derailment as a “huge boom” that left houses shaking. Another nearby resident says he heard crashing sounds before witnessing a “huge fireball” launched into the sky. Others say they found out after waking in the early morning hours to firefighters knocking at their door to ask them to evacuate. An evacuation center was in place very quickly, providing information as well as food and hot coffee. Evacuees were sent to nearby hotels and told the expenses would be reimbursed.

From nearly a mile away emergency teams are keeping an eye on the wrecked train. Before the decision to fall back, more than 40 firefighters were on the scene. So far there are no reports of property damage or livestock loss, officials say.

This accident comes on the heels of an incident near Sexsmith, Alberta just days before. Locals were forced to evacuate after a train hauling anhydrous ammonia came off the tracks. Less than a month ago 17 train cars carrying fossil fuels and chemicals derailed in western Saskatchewan on September 25.

After the incident a Canadian National spokesperson dismissed concerns about the safety of transporting hazardous material by rail. He claims that more than 99 percent of their hazardous transports have no incident and that the Alberta train derailment was a rarity.

[Image via TSB Canada / Twitter]