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Fireball Hits Sky as Train Carrying Crude Oil, Gas Derails

13 cars derail near Edmonton, workers continue to fight flames, explosion

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Emergency workers continue to battle a fire on Saturday after a Canadian National tanker train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) derailed near Edmonton, forcing the evacuation of an entire town and sending a fireball into the sky.

Photo: RCMP via Parkland Country Facebook page The derailment happened around 1 AM in the town of Gainford, Alberta, which lies about 50 miles west of the province's capital city.  The train was traveling from Edmonton to Vancouver, British Colombia.

CTV News reports:

At least one of the 13 cars that came off the track exploded, and officials are warning of further explosions as three of the cars remain on fire.

Nine of the cars were carrying LPG, and four were carrying crude oil, according to Canada's Transportation Safety Board.

"We have cars on fire right now and there was an explosion earlier this morning. The major priority right now for our guys out in the field is containing these fires," said Carson Mills, a spokesman for Parkland County, which includes Gainford.

One resident told the Associated Press he heard crashes before seeing a fireball hit the sky.  "The fireball was so big, it shot across both lanes of the Yellowhead [Highway] and now both lanes of the Yellowhead are closed and there's fire on both sides," said the man identified as Duane.

Jim Phelan, fire chief of Parkland County, told a news conference that residents within miles saw and heard a "large fireball."

All of Gainford's roughly 100 residents have been evacuated, and there are no injuries being reported at this time.

The risks of transporting fossil fuels by rail gained attention in July when a runaway train carrying oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people, causing still-to-be-determined environmental damage, and offering a tragic reminder of the high cost of fossil fuel dependency.

Unless safety standards are updated, Greenpeace Canada says another disaster is sure to come.

Despite the accident, movement of oil-by-rail shows no sign of abating.

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