December 31, 2013 / 1:26 PM / 6 years ago

North Dakota town mostly evacuated after fiery oil train crash

Dec 31 (Reuters) - Most of a small North Dakota town has been evacuated after a train carrying crude oil crashed into another train that had derailed, officials said on Tuesday.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney told CNN that 10 to 12 cars of the 106-car BNSF Railway Co oil train were still burning about a mile (1.6 km) west of the town of Casselton. No injuries were reported.

About 65 percent of the 2,300 residents left under a non-mandatory evacuation, Laney said, adding that local authorities had carried out drills for such emergencies.

“The main areas that are real hot areas that we were worried about are pretty well empty,” he said.

The westerly wind was expected to shift during the morning and push the smoke away from the town. Officials may then decide when residents can go home, Laney said.

The BNSF train on Monday struck a 112-car train carrying soybeans that had derailed. The crash set about 21 cars on fire and no injuries were reported, BNSF, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said in a statement.

It said BNSF emergency response crews and hazardous material teams were sent to the site.

The crash was the latest in a string of accidents that have raised alarms over the growing oil-by-rail traffic from shale oil production out of North Dakota’s Bakken fields. More than two-thirds of the state’s oil production is shipped by rail. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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