Train derailment causes home evacuations in Lyon County
Around 4:15 a.m. Sunday, a freight train headed from Sioux City to Wilmer, Minn., derailed in Lester, Iowa, taking 25 of its 100 cars off the track. Nobody was hurt, but the work began in earnest for local law enforcement officials.
"We have the HAZMAT team down there. They're checking for any leaks or contaminations," said Mark Dorhout, deputy for the Lyon County Sheriff's Department.
Emergency personnel kept people—including the media—at bay Sunday, as they assessed a potentially dangerous situation on and around these tracks.
"The car that's been compromised is LPG, and so that's why we're working so closely with first responders," said Amy McBeth, spokesperson for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways.
LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas, which is incredibly flammable. HAZMAT officials say an initial assessment showed no hazardous leaks, but there was still a danger of a fire, when putting the cars back on the tracks. Some of the other cars were carrying things like cement and propane.
"Local fire officials and sheriff's department evacuated residents within a one mile radius of the crash. That was before HAZMAT officials could even come on the scene to assess the situation.
"They make that determination out of precaution certainly," said McBeth. "We'll be taking every precaution and working closely with them as we move forward."
That meant 12 families around Lester, Iowa, would be leaving their homes indefinitely, as crews assessed the accident.
"Best case scenario is there are no leaks, and they're able to get it cleaned off," said Dorhout.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
Officials say the clean up could take all night, as they try to figure out a safe way to get the rail cars back onto the track. The evacuees are staying with other family until further notice.
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