More Than Three Dozen People Living Near Heimdal Are Back Home Wednesday Night

UPDATE: More than three dozen people living in and around Heimdal, North Dakota are back home Wednesday night.

Their evacuation was prompted by an oil tanker derailment around seven Wednesday morning.

People living nearby tell us they could feel the heat for some distance and hear explosions every so often.

Heimdal is located southeast of Minot, about 80 miles. Burlington Northern tells us the train had 109 cars, all but one carrying crude oil.

At least six of the rail cars that derailed caught fire, sending thick black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.

Randi Suckut, Wells County Commissioner told us Wednesday night that today’s rain dampened the grass, which kept the fire from spreading. Suckut says a dike has been built around the derailment area to keep oil related problems from spreading.

The rail line remains closed, Amtrak and other BNSF freight trains are being rerouted.
There is still no official cause of the derailment and the case remains open for investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Another train derailment, another city and another group of residents displaced.

"You have to evacuate right now and I said 'what about my dog' and they said he would be fine, so I hope he's doing okay," explains rural Heimdal resident Linda Georgeson.

The town of Heimdal, North Dakota, was evacuated after an oil train went off the tracks about 1.5 miles from the town and started on fire around 7:30 a.m. Heimdal is in between Harvey and New Rockford, North Dakota.

"A big plume, I thought it was a tornado, the way it looked it was just going swirly," said rural Heimdal resident Arden Georgeson.

BNSF said in a statement the train was carrying crude oil. No injuries have been reported. Ten tankers started on fire. All but two of the 109 cars on that train carried crude oil.

Spokesperson Amy McBeth says the tank cars involved in the incident are the unjacketed CPC-1232 models, which is an older model not equipped with the latest safety equipment. The rail line the train was travelling on stretches from just west of Casselton to Minot.

Fire crews from Harvey, Fessenden and Maddock were called in to fight the fire. As of Wednesday evening, the flames at the scene were all out.

Witness Jennifer Willis lives about a half mile from where the train derailed. She says she heard it happen this morning and it sounded like thunder.

Willis has been evacuated from her home. She tells Valley News Live the closest they've been allowed to the scene is an 1/8th of a mile and you could feel the heat.

Governor Jack Dalrymple traveled to Heimdal Wednesday and said emergency response was superior, "No fatalities, no injuries and the emergency response appears to be outstanding a couple people said they had training and preparation for this that made a difference in terms of organization."

Representative Kevin Cramer was also in Heimdal Wednesday. He says seeing the response will help lawmakers evaluate rail traffic rules.

"To see how a scene plays out, to see how the community responds, to see how a fire burns all of that will be helpful as we now monitor the new rule, and see if it's adequate," Cramer said.